What is TMS Therapy?

TMS therapy (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique used as a treatment for various mental health conditions, primarily major depressive disorder (MDD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate specific regions of the brain.

Different types of TMS Therapy

  • Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS): This is the most commonly used form of TMS. It involves the repetitive delivery of magnetic pulses to specific regions of the brain associated with the targeted condition, such as depression. These pulses are delivered through a figure-8-shaped coil placed on the scalp. rTMS can help stimulate underactive neurons and modulate brain activity in the targeted areas, leading to improvements in mood and other symptoms.
  • Theta Burst Stimulation (Thetaburst): Thetaburst stimulation is a newer and faster form of TMS. It delivers magnetic pulses in a specific pattern called the theta burst pattern. This pattern consists of a series of short bursts of pulses delivered at a high frequency. Thetaburst stimulation is designed to provide a similar therapeutic effect to rTMS but in a shorter duration, typically lasting a few minutes. The efficacy of TBS is still being studied, but it has shown promise in treating a variety of conditions, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and chronic pain. There is some evidence that TBS may be more effective than traditional TMS in treating certain conditions. For example, a study published in the journal Brain Stimulation in 2015 found that TBS was more effective than TMS in reducing symptoms of depression. Due to this research, it is becoming increasingly common as a treatment option, that’s why insurance companies are starting to cover TBS, which may make it more accessible to people who need it.

           Here is a summary of the evidence on the efficacy of TBS

    • Depression: Several studies have shown that TBS is effective in reducing symptoms of depression. A meta-analysis published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry in 2017 found that TBS was more effective than sham stimulation in reducing depression symptoms.
    • OCD: A small study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in 2015 found that TBS was effective in reducing symptoms of OCD.
    • Chronic pain: A small study published in the journal Pain in 2016 found that TBS was effective in reducing chronic pain.
  • Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS): Deep TMS involves reaching deeper brain regions by using an H-coil, which allows for broader and deeper stimulation compared to the figure-8 coil used in rTMS. The H-coil creates a magnetic field that can penetrate further into the brain, targeting areas associated with specific conditions. Deep TMS has shown efficacy in treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other neuropsychiatric disorders. It offers the advantage of reaching brain structures that are not easily accessible with traditional TMS techniques.
  • fMRI-guided TMS: This treatment is a newer technique that uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to help target specific brain regions. This is done by taking an fMRI scan of the patient’s brain while they are performing a task that activates the target region. The fMRI scan then provides a map of the brain region that is activated during the task. This map is then used to guide the TMS treatment, ensuring that the magnetic field is focused on the correct area of the brain. fMRI-guided TMS has been shown to be more effective than traditional TMS in treating some conditions, such as depression. It is also a more precise technique, which means that there is less risk of side effects.

What is the process of a TMS treatment / session?

  • Preparation: You will be comfortably seated in an office-like setting. The TMS technician will position you in the treatment chair and ensure you are in a relaxed position.
  • Coil Placement: The technician will position a specialized coil over the specific area of your scalp that corresponds to the targeted brain region for the treatment. The exact placement may vary depending on the specific TMS protocol being used and the condition being treated. The coil is then secured in place.
  • Treatment Session: Once the coil is positioned correctly, the TMS device will be activated. You will hear a clicking sound as the magnetic pulses are delivered to your brain. You may feel tapping or a mild sensation on your scalp during the treatment. The treatment session for rTMS typically lasts around 20-40 minutes, depending on the specific TMS protocol and the condition being treated. Thetaburst treatment sessions last anywhere from 3-7 minutes long.
  • Sensations and Side Effects: Some individuals may experience mild discomfort or scalp sensation during the treatment, such as tapping, tingling, or twitching of facial muscles. These sensations are generally well-tolerated and tend to diminish as you get accustomed to the treatment. If you experience any discomfort, it’s important to communicate with the TMS technician.
  • Recovery: TMS is a noninvasive procedure, so there is no recovery period required. You can resume your normal activities immediately after the session, including driving and work. TMS does not typically cause sedation or impair cognitive function, allowing you to carry on with your daily routine without restrictions.
  • Treatment Schedule: TMS therapy is usually prescribed as a series of sessions. The treatment course typically involves sessions administered five times per week, spanning 4-6 weeks, although the specific schedule may vary depending on the individual’s treatment plan. Consistency and adherence to the prescribed treatment schedule are important for optimal outcomes.
  • Long-term Effects: TMS therapy is generally well-tolerated, and most individuals do not experience long-term side effects. Some individuals may experience mild and temporary side effects such as scalp discomfort, mild headache, or lightheadedness during or shortly after the session. These side effects tend to dissipate spontaneously as the treatment progresses and are often manageable.

Is TMS an effective treatment?

TMS therapy has shown effectiveness as a treatment option for various mental health conditions, particularly for individuals who have not achieved satisfactory results with antidepressant medications or cannot tolerate their side effects. When it comes to major depressive disorder (MDD), TMS has been found to have a response rate of approximately 50-60% in individuals with treatment-resistant depression. This means that a significant number of patients experience a reduction in depressive symptoms and an improvement in overall mood.

In comparison to antidepressant medications, TMS therapy offers several advantages. Antidepressants can take weeks or even months to produce noticeable effects, and not all individuals respond favorably to them. TMS, on the other hand, tends to have a more rapid onset of action, with some individuals experiencing symptom improvement within a few weeks of starting treatment. Additionally, TMS is a localized treatment that directly targets specific brain regions, whereas antidepressant medications work systemically and can have a range of side effects affecting various parts of the body.

What other mental health conditions can be treated with TMS Therapy?

The research on TMS for other conditions is still ongoing, but the results so far have been promising.  As research continues, it is likely that TMS will become a more widely used treatment for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): TMS has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, such as nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety.
  • Anxiety: TMS has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD).
  • Smoking cessation: TMS has been shown to be effective in helping people quit smoking.
  • Migraines: TMS has been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.
  • Addiction: TMS is being investigated as a potential treatment for addiction to drugs and alcohol.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: TMS is being investigated as a potential treatment for this sickness.
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): TMS is being investigated as a potential treatment for TBI-related cognitive and behavioral problems.

In clinical practice, TMS therapy is often considered as an alternative or adjunct to antidepressant medications, especially for those who have not responded well to traditional pharmacotherapy. TMS provides an additional treatment option that can be customized to individual needs and can be combined with other therapeutic approaches like psychotherapy. Ultimately, the choice between TMS and antidepressants should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional or psychiatrist, considering the individual’s specific condition, treatment history, and preferences.

If you are interested in TMS therapy as a potential treatment for your mental health condition, it’s important to find a reputable provider near you. TMS Therapy Near Me offers a convenient and reliable way to locate qualified TMS providers in your area. With TMS Therapy Near Me, you can take the next step towards finding the right provider and starting your journey towards improved mental well-being.

Don’t wait any longer – explore the possibilities of TMS therapy and find a provider near you today.