What is TMS Therapy?
TMS stands for “transcranial magnetic stimulation.” It’s a non-invasive procedure to stimulate your brain using magnetic fields. By improving symptoms of depression, TMS helps patients who have tried other treatments like talk therapy, medication, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
The FDA-approved therapy treats major depressive disorder and is one of the most intensive, last-resort options for those who struggle with its hopelessness and despair. Treatment sessions are repetitive and frequent, helping people lift themselves out of the worst episodes in six weeks or less.
In that time, see how TMS procedures can make your depressive symptoms improve or disappear. Its experts continually improve their stimulation techniques, treatment sites, and effectiveness.
What is TMS Therapy Used for?
TMS treatments assist mood regulation. A brain stimulation therapy that can improve symptoms of mental health disorders, TMS is indicated for depression when other therapies and medications don’t work. It may help other conditions like anxiety, PTSD, bipolar, and more.
TMS Treatment Preparation
Not all patients are compatible with TMS. Your doctor may need a physical exam and psychiatric evaluation to match you with the treatment. Without tests and discussion of your depression, it’s unclear whether repeated TMS is a good, safe option for lifting your condition.
For example, those who are pregnant, have implants, or have been taking certain medications may not be a good fit. It’s also important to disclose a medical history, including all of the following:
- Seizure history
- Medical devices
- Mental health disorders
- Brain damage
- Frequent, severe headaches
- Medical conditions
- Prior treatment
You won’t need sedation or much preparation for TMS treatments, even on an outpatient basis. You also don’t need to have a driver arranged after the procedure, but you should check that your insurance company covers the therapy. (Some choose to have a driver for the first appointment if they’re unsure how it will affect them.)
How Does TMS Therapy Work?
To deliver magnetic pulses to the brain during a TMS session, the technician applies a coil against the scalp. Near your forehead, the magnet painlessly sends energy that stimulates cells. These specific cells control emotions and influence affect, activating the area and improving mood. Because depression is thought to lower activity in key regions, the biological stimulation impacts brain function, easing depressive states.
Experts perform the procedure in different ways. They learn more about the most effective techniques with each study published supporting this therapy for treatment-resistant depression.
Common Side Effects of TMS Procedure
TMS works for people that standard treatment has failed. Multiple TMS sessions can treat depression when medications and talk haven’t. It is well-tolerated and safe for patients without the need for sedation. Overall, TMS spurs progress and sparks a boost. Some people experience short-lived side effects, but many are mild and moderate.
Patients feel a little discomfort at the stimulation site during the procedure, and some tolerate tingling, spasms, and twitching. There can be other side effects:
- Scalp itching
- Mild discomfort
The level of stimulation can adjust to your tolerance of the pulses. Over-the-counter pain medication is often recommended. The rare experience of TMS stimulation includes some serious side effects as well:
- Hearing loss
Long-term side effects of repeated TMS are being studied, but doctors can prevent even these with ear protection and managing risks for patients with bipolar disorder.
TMS Session Experience
TMS therapy is a good experience for most people. But, it takes multiple appointments at a treatment provider for sessions to take effect. Typically, patients pace their sessions daily, five times per week for up to six weeks. Each treatment lasts about 40 to 60 minutes, making it an intensive option for stubborn depression. Its results change lives.
What are TMS sessions like?
At your first appointment, you’ll see how the doctor identifies the best forehead area to apply stimulation. They will also calculate an optimal dose of magnetic energy. In the treatment room, you’ll recline in a chair with earplugs. The coil placed on your head will pulse with a clicking sound.
You’ll feel a gentle tapping—mapping the region of the brain. Once the magnetic dose increases to its peak, your fingers may twitch slightly. At this point, the doctor finds a “threshold” before deciding on a dosage that can be adjusted as treatment continues.
Follow-up sessions resemble the initial appointment. You’ll sit in a chair with a TMS technician, under the machine clicking, for around 40 minutes.
Results of TMS Therapy
Repeated TMS may benefit your depression. If transcranial magnetic stimulation works for you, symptoms can vanish. After a few weeks of treatment, you’ll see the improvement possible through this alternative to first-line therapies.
While it is unknown whether TMS will be helpful for you, some continue with maintenance sessions after the usual six-week period, hoping to stay symptom-free. TMS treatment can always be repeated. If an episode comes, this “re-induction” is often covered by insurance companies. It’s something you would discuss with your doctor.
The results of TMS continue to improve as researchers, scientists, doctors, and their patients advance knowledge of the brain and its influence under magnetism.
Benefits of TMS Treatment and Therapy
TMS therapy for depression can help the 30 percent of people who don’t respond to medication and talk therapy. By addressing reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, TMS can help:
- reduce feelings of sadness and emptiness
- decrease frustration and outbursts
- improve your mood and interest in activities
- regulate sleep patterns and cut insomnia
- increase energy and sharpen thinking
- lower thoughts of suicide and death
TMS therapy helps many people return to day-to-day activities like work and school—freed from their depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. For others, it reduces symptoms of being miserable and unhappy alongside other treatment modes.
Is TMS Safe and Covered by Insurance?
TMS is safe for most because everyone responds differently to magnetic stimulation. The procedure is non-invasive and only mildly uncomfortable during a relatively short treatment period.
As an FDA-approved therapy, most major insurance companies cover the sessions. The Haven Detox offers TMS therapy and may accept your insurance. Confirm your benefits with our counselors.
Heal Depression and Choose The Haven
The Haven Detox provides safe, supervised support to people with all kinds of mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Anyone who wants to heal their lives from addiction and struggle has open access to proven treatments on our state-of-the-art campus.
If you grapple with depression, substance use, or another condition—connect with one of our counselors about your ideal recovery. Call 561-328-8627.