Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Treatment Options - TMS

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is an FDA-approved form of brain stimulation therapy for treating depression. TMS may also be used to treat conditions such as anxiety and Parkinson's disease.

During TMS, magnetic pulses are passed through the nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. It is a non-invasive procedure that may be recommended when other forms of treatment, such as antidepressants and psychotherapy (talk therapy), have shown no, or little, benefit.

Different types of TMS exist based on how they deliver the magnetic pulses. A specialist in TMS treatments can help you choose the type that is best for your treatment plan.

How TMS Helps

During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed near your forehead on your scalp. The device is used to deliver magnetic pulses to regions of your brain that are connected to mood control and depression.

When you have a depressive disorder, you are likely to have reduced activity in the brain's prefrontal cortex. This part supports your ability to make decisions, solve problems, maintain attention, and plan for the future. TMS works by activating the nerve cells in these regions to reduce depression symptoms.

TMS therapy is an outpatient procedure that can be carried out in a medical clinic and does not need an overnight stay. It is a painless procedure that takes between 20-40 minutes. It is usually recommended five days a week for about 4 to 6 weeks. Your response will determine the total number of treatments needed. 

TMS therapy is typically used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and treatment-resistant depression. Research is ongoing for other areas where TMS could be beneficial.

What to Expect During TMS

Since electromagnetic pulses are used during the procedure, you will be asked to remove any jewelry or metallic objects from your person before the process begins.

The TMS technician measures your head to identify points where the magnetic coil will be placed. You may also be given earplugs to minimize the magnetic clicking sound of the device when it is in operation.

Next, the magnetic coil is placed over the area where your prefrontal cortex is located, and the treatment begins. You may hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping sensation beneath the coil.

Each session lasts about 30 minutes, and you will be seated in a chair and stay awake throughout the entire duration. There is no downtime with this procedure, and you can go about your normal day immediately after.

Side Effects of TMS

After a TMS treatment, most people can return to their normal activities without any downtime.

Although side effects of TMS are unlikely, they can include:

  • Mild headaches (most commonly seen side effect)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Scalp or neck pain
  • Tingling sensation or facial twitching
  • Drowsiness
  • Altered cognition during treatment

In rare cases, TMS may increase the risk of seizures.

Risk Factors for TMS

Although TMS is considered a safe treatment option, it is not suitable for everyone. You should avoid this treatment if you have metal in your head, such as:

  • Deep brain stimulators
  • Electrodes in the brain
  • Neck or brain stents
  • Aneurysm clips or coils
  • Shrapnel or bullet pieces
  • Facial tattoos with metallic ink
  • Metal plates
  • Cochlear implants
  • Permanent piercings

Essentially, anything metallic inside or on your body can cause complications due to the electromagnetic impulses used by TMS. However, braces and dental fillings are considered saf

Do you have more questions about TMS?

Options MD can help! If you have had unsuccessful experiences with antidepressant medication and psychotherapy, you might be a candidate for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Get in touch today to find out more about your treatment options.

If you would like to interact with others in the same position as you, we also started the largest community of people with severe and treatment-resistant depression. It is a safe, collaborative, and supportive place to learn about better medication options and leading-edge treatments.

Text today to get access to qualified doctors. Alternatively, join our online community to find friendship and support.

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