Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive, durable procedure that uses the power of magnetic fields to stimulate the neural pathways in your brain in order to improve symptoms of mood disorders such as depression. Though only FDA approved for depression, TMS Therapy has shown promise in the areas such as cognitive response, PTSD, as well as anxiety.
Preparing for TMS Therapy
Before starting TMS treatment, traditionally a patient will undergo both a physical and psychiatric exam. Because of its use as an alternative treatment, it is also a typical pre-requisite that the patient has at least attempted the use of depression medication before being approved for transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Patients may also wish to be aware of the treatments effects on other metal or implanted medical devices. Because of its use of strong magnetic fields, the procedure may interfere with the function of devices such as:
- Cochlear Implants
- Any other metal object implanted in the body
Also note that TMS is entirely non-invasive, not requiring any type of anesthesia unlike ECT treatments. A patient will never have to arrange for a ride home. Also be sure to check with your insurance company to see if TMS treatment is covered.
What is TMS Treatment Like?
Because of its outpatient procedure modality, TMS treatment typically takes place in a regular doctor’s office, not a hospital. For patients that are suffering from depression specifically, there are FDA indications for the number of appointments they will have. Typically, a total of 36 appointments that are daily, five days per week for 4 to 6 weeks is recommended. This is typically followed by six taper sessions that are done at the end. Each session can last between 18 and 24 minutes.
In a TMS session, the electromagnetic coil will be placed against their skin on the scalp, located very close to the forehead. This coil then sends out magnetic pulses in order to stimulate the nerve cells that are located in the region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. This can feel like tapping against the scalp, which is issued in intervals every four seconds, then off for 26. Though patients may experience minor discomfort or light headaches, there are no side effects and treatment process is extremely tolerated.
TMS Uses Other Than Depression
TMS is not only used for the treatment of mood disorders, but also used diagnostically to test connections between the neurological system and skeletal muscle. This helps evaluate the progression various diseases and damage they have caused including movement disorders, motor neuron diseases as well as stroke and multiple sclerosis.
Even though transcranial magnetic stimulation has only been FDA approved for depression, there have been remarkable results in various studies about its effectiveness in other mental and neurological disorders as well. Evidence has suggested it is also having efficacy against neuropathic pain, cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s as well as other mood disorders such as anxiety.
The Future of TMS Therapy
Though depression has seen a large amount of success through medication, there are some people who experience medication-resistant depression and require higher levels of care and treatment. This is where TMS therapy can thrive. Through durable, long-lasting TMS treatment, patients can expect results that they may not have otherwise gained through traditional medication treatment.