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TMS Therapy

If you have depression, but medication and therapy haven’t worked, this in-person treatment may be right for you. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy primarily targets depression, providing a non-invasive treatment option. Especially recommended for depression resistant to medication, TMS is also used for secondary mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and certain types of chronic pain. TMS delivers magnetic pulses to specific brain areas linked with mood regulation, stimulating nerve cells to alleviate symptoms. This therapy presents a safe alternative with minimal side effects, particularly beneficial for individuals unresponsive to traditional treatments.

What is TMS Therapy?

TMS Therapy is an in-office procedure that can relieve symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. This safe, effective treatment uses electromagnetic waves to stimulate specific parts of the brain. It works by delivering magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain associated with mood regulation. These pulses stimulate nerve cells in the brain, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression in individuals who have not responded well to traditional treatments like medication or therapy.

This type of therapy can seem intimidating to those unfamiliar with it. Some people may confuse it with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which can have significant side effects, including memory loss. The two procedures could hardly be more different.

It is essential to understand that it is a non-invasive procedure with few side effects. It is also only used in cases where no other intervention has worked.

Two of the most well-known TMS machines are the NeuroStar and the Magstim TMS Chair. NeuroStar utilizes patented Deep TMS (dTMS) technology, allowing for deeper penetration of magnetic pulses into targeted areas of the brain compared to traditional TMS systems. The Magstim TMS Chair is designed for patient comfort, allowing individuals to sit comfortably during treatment sessions.

TMS therapy is FDA approved for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in individuals who have not responded adequately to prior antidepressant medications.

What Happens in a TMS Session?

During a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) session, the patient typically sits in a comfortable chair or recliner. The TMS technician will then position a special electromagnetic coil against the patient’s scalp, usually near the forehead. This coil emits magnetic pulses that penetrate the scalp and skull to reach specific areas of the brain associated with mood regulation.

Once the coil is properly positioned, the TMS machine delivers a series of repetitive magnetic pulses to the targeted brain regions. These pulses are painless and generally feel like tapping or clicking sensations on the scalp. The intensity and frequency of the pulses are carefully controlled by the technician based on the patient’s individual treatment plan.

Throughout the session, which typically lasts about 20-30 minutes, the patient can relax and engage in quiet activities such as reading, listening to music, or simply resting. After the session is complete, the patient can immediately resume their normal activities without any downtime or recovery period.

TMS does not require anesthesia nor cause pain. Patients can drive themselves to and from a session. While electromagnetic waves may sound intimidating, they are just like the technology used in an MRI.

TMS therapy typically involves multiple sessions over several weeks, with the frequency and duration of treatment determined by the patient’s response and the recommendations of their healthcare provider. Over the course of treatment, many patients experience a gradual improvement in their depressive symptoms, although individual responses may vary.

What Does TMS Treat?

TMS is an FDA-approved treatment primarily for patients with depression who do not respond to other treatments. Depending on the equipment used, TMS is also FDA-approved to treat anxiety and OCD. TMS has been explored as a potential treatment for OCD, particularly for individuals who have not responded well to traditional therapies like medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Research is underway to see whether TMS can work effectively on other disorders, treating ADHD, schizophrenia, substance use disorders such as nicotine addiction and alcohol dependence, chronic pain conditions, including neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, and migraines.

TMS is best suited for people who have tried other interventions for depression without success. This may mean that several different medications did not relieve symptoms or that the medications’ side effects were too much to handle. TMS patients have usually also tried talk therapy.

What is NeuroStar TMS?

NeuroStar TMS uses focused magnetic pulses (similar in strength to an MRI), to revitalize underactive areas of the brain involved in regulating mood. When these regions are underactive, depression can result. “Waking up” these regions can have a lasting effect on depression, making long-term remission from depression a reality for many people. Treatment with NeuroStar Advanced TMS Therapy is easy:

  • Therapy sessions are conducted in your NeuroStar doctor’s office
  • You can return to normal activities right away
  • You are awake during treatment
  • There are no negative effects on memory or sleep
  • It’s covered by most health insurance plans

For people who have not found relief with antidepressants, NeuroStar TMS is a safe and proven depression treatment without the systemic side effects of medication. Over 4.8 million NeuroStar Advanced TMS treatments have been performed in over 134,000 patients.