Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is a non-invasive treatment that stimulates the brain through electromagnetic pulses that activate nerve cells, which may improve symptoms of neurological or mental health disorders. Due to its high success rate, it is getting popular in the psychology community. The treatment itself is easy. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about TMS Treatment sessions.
How Long Do TMS Sessions Last?
TMS Therapy is determined depending on your unique clinical circumstances, so the duration of TMS treatment sessions can vary depending on the prescribed therapy and the condition being treated. Each individual TMS treatment session is reasonably brief. It is commonly performed between 20 to 50 minutes per session, but your first may last a little longer than expected because your provider determines how to best deliver your treatments.
What Happens During TMS Therapy Treatment?
Since TMS is a non-invasive procedure, patients do not need any previous preparation.
Before treatment begins, your psychiatrist will ask you to sit in a reclining chair and identify the best place to put the magnets on your head and the correct magnetic dose for you.
With you in a comfortable position, under supervision, and completely awake and alert, an electromagnetic coil will be placed against your scalp near your forehead. You might feel a tingling or tapping sensation and a clicking sound from the machine. Painlessly, the electromagnet stimulates nerve cells involved in mood control and depressive symptoms.
You may feel some scalp discomfort during the treatment and for a short time afterward.
Things to Consider Before Your First TMS Appointment
It is essential to mention to your mental health provider if:
• You have any metal or implanted medical devices in your body
• You are currently taking any meds.
• You have other mental disorders or any other medical conditions.
• You had brain damage or any brain-related injury.
Before considering treatment, Do not forget to consult if your insurance coverage includes TMS.
How Many TMS Sessions are Needed?
TMS Therapy requires a series of treatment sessions to be influential. In a typical course, the first round of sessions is over a six-week period, generally lasting five days a week, followed by an 8 to 12-week continuation phase with two sessions per week. As you progress, there is a tapering-off in which you gradually reduce the number of sessions before stopping them completely.
If your particular case requires, by your doctor’s recommendation, to return for further rounds, they will not be as frequent as the first time; two or three days per week may be sufficient.
You may observe a boost of energy and interest in things you usually enjoy or an advance in everyday activities like feeling less sad, sleeping better, or being less fatigued.
An important thing to consider is that even if an improvement during the TMS treatment course is likely noticed, it is essential to complete it to get the full benefits.
What Happens After My TMS Treatment Session?
Because no sedation or anesthesia is administered during treatment, outpatients do not need to arrange for someone to drive them home after treatment. You can immediately continue with your normal daily activities.
Not stopping taking your medications during treatment is essential as it will not conflict with them. By continuing your regular prescription routine, you will better understand how well TMS is working. Also, consider not consuming high levels of alcohol since it aggravates depression.
Pros of TMS Therapy
1. Non-invasive: Except for Talk Therapy, TMS is the least invasive treatment method for major depressive disorder, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental conditions; magnetic fields can go throughout the body without causing damage.
2. Effectiveness: When traditional depression and other mental conditions treatments are not working, TMS has been proven to have a success rate, making it harmless and helpful for patients who require an alternative solution. As published by the NIH, “Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a safe, noninvasive neuromodulation therapy for major depressive disorder (MDD).”
3. No Systemic Side Effects: Classical antidepressant treatment causes systemic side effects like weight gain, stomach issues, dry mouth, etc. TMS is long-term side effect free.
4. Covered by Health Insurance: Nowadays, almost all medical securities include TMS as a covered treatment for depression.
5. An accessible introduction to your routine: Due to TMS being a non-invasive procedure, patients can continue with their normal activities without being interrupted or causing significant difficulties.
6. None Addictive: TMS is not habit-forming. Maintenance TMS sessions are only to prevent a future depressive episode, but their application has no addictive properties.
7. No Memory issues: Unlike other treatments which cause memory issues like ECT, TMS therapy does not affect memory; on the opposite, TMS has been proven to improve cognitive ability.
Cons of TMS Therapy
1. Time Commitment: In order to work, TMS Therapy requires a little bit of your time on a daily basis, at least for the first round, which lasts between four to six weeks, and that commitment may be difficult for some people.
2. Discomfort during sessions: Mild headache has been reported by some patients during or after the treatment. It usually goes away after some rounds while patients get used to it.
3. The trouble with Health insurance: For some insurance companies, proving that you have had an antidepressant-resistant treatment is a must before approval to cover the whole treatment cost. Most of them ask for at least one failure with traditional treatments before accepting a patient to receive TMS Therapy.
4. Availability: Since the recent boom for this treatment and its increasing popularity, TMS Centers are becoming more and more available in metropolitan areas, but rural areas still lack them, which makes impossible their immediate access.
5. Cost: Despite the restrictions that health insurances ask for, the majority cover the expenses of TMS therapy. With no medical security, it could be highly costly for patients.
Deep TMS is a very effective form of TMS therapy that often helps those struggling with depression to achieve a better quality of life.