When the Food and Drug Administration approved TMS for treating depression in 2008, it came as a relief for thousands of Major Depressive Disorder patients. They could feel safe exploring this treatment option.
Although depression is treatable with medication, some patients suffer from medication-resistant depression. Others experience extreme side effects with traditional medicines. TMS provides a welcome option for such patients.
TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The non-invasive procedure stimulates the part of the brain that regulates mood. The comfortable nature of the therapy makes it attractive to patients seeking help with persistent depression. TMS also relieves people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and bipolar depression, among other mental health conditions.
TMS Therapy for Depression
TMS is FDA-approved for treating depression. So it’s a safe, effective, and secure procedure. It involves repetitive nerve stimulation using magnetic pulses to awaken brain nerves underactive in depression. As a result, patients experience improvement in symptoms and sometimes fully recover.
Before choosing TMS, you must consider whether you are the right candidate. Do you have a depression diagnosis? Have you tried traditional medication without success? Do you react adversely to medicine? You may need to talk with a psychiatrist to determine these facts.
Your psychiatrist will perform:
- Physical examination and tests
- Psychiatric evaluation
It’s critical to undergo the exam and evaluation so the doctor can clear you for the procedure. If your psychiatrist decides that TMS is right for you, then you can go in for your first appointment. During this session, your physician will explain what to expect during therapy, how long it will last, how to prepare, etc.
When you first meet with your psychiatrist for TMS evaluation, it helps if you cooperate. Answer their questions. Bring up your concerns. And never feel pressured to start TMS before you feel ready. So, choose a psychiatrist who listens and spends as much time as necessary during evaluation appointments.
Because TMS involves the use of magnetic pulses, you should let your doctor know if you:
- Are you planning on or are already pregnant.
- Have metal implants, especially around the head. (Such implants as stents, aneurysm coils, cochlear implants, pacemakers, etc., can make TMS dangerous. Although dental implants are not affected, be sure to tell the doctor about any metallic or magnetic implants in your body.)
- Have a history of epilepsy and seizures.
- Have a brain tumor or damage from another illness.
- They are on medication. Mention any medication you’re currently taking.
- I have undergone TMS before.
- Struggle with chronic headaches and migraines.
- Have other medical conditions.
Your psychiatrist will bring these points up for discussion. However, knowing them beforehand ensures you don’t overlook important details.
Planning for TMS Therapy Sessions
TMS or rTMS ( Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) therapy is repetitive. That means you will have several sessions over several weeks to complete the treatment. But it’s an entirely outpatient procedure that can be done at a clinic.
Most of the preparation for TMS happens with your psychiatrist. You’ll need to open slots in your schedule for the sessions. Sessions are typically done on weekdays for 20-40 minutes for 4-6 weeks. Talk with your physician about alternative hours, such as after work, if you can’t make time during the day.
TMS requires neither anesthesia nor a helmet. You’ll be comfortably seated and conscious during the entire session. So you can drive to and from the clinic without problems. You may choose to bring a driver for the first few sessions until you know what to expect, but it’s unnecessary.
You can discontinue therapy at any time. If you feel uncomfortable during a session, you can request the technician to stop without the risk of complications.
TMS for Bipolar Depression
In addition to unipolar depression, TMS has also helped improve Bipolar depression symptoms. It can be therapeutic when the correct nerve is stimulated.
At Arcara Personalized Psychiatry, we use TMS to treat bipolar depression. Our patients start feeling better at different points during therapy – some as early as the first week. Results depend on individual patients.
TMS for Depression and Bipolar Side Effects
TMS is safe, with mild side effects. Common side effects include:
- Scalp discomfort in the area where the coil sits
- Tingling or twitching of facial muscles
Less common, serious contra-reactions include:
- Hearing loss
- Mania, in people with bipolar disorder
If you think TMS can help you, call us or visit us at Arcara Personalized Psychiatry. We use the best TMS devices in the industry. We also take enough time during evaluation and through the therapy to ensure your comfort.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatment is helping patients find relief and have quality lives. If you’ve tried traditional without feeling better, book an evaluation session with us to determine if TMS is the right choice.