Transcranial Magnetic Therapy
What is it?
TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. It is used to treat depression by stimulating the brain non-invasively using electromagnetic fields, similar to those produced by an MRI machine. During TMS Therapy, a magnetic field is administered in very short pulses to the part of the brain that research has demonstrated to be associated with depression. The typical initial course of treatment is about 19-37 minutes for 5 days a week over 4-6 weeks.
How does it work?
TMS Therapy stimulates areas of the brain that are underactive in depression. It uses a targeted pulsed magnetic field, similar to what is used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. The magnetic field produces an electric current in the brain that stimulates the brain cells (neurons). This results in changes that are proven by research in the treatment of depression.
How safe and effective is TMS Therapy?
Many people’s depression symptoms significantly improved or went away after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment.
Over 2 million treatments have been performed and many of the top psychiatry hospitals provide TMS Therapy. It is also covered by most major insurance companies.
Is TMS Right For You?
Take This Health Assessment to Find Out
Little interest or pleasure in doing things?
Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
Feeling tired or having little energy?
Poor appetite or overeating?
Feeling bad about yourself — or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down?
Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television?
Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed? Or so fidgety or restless that you have been moving a lot more than usual?
Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or thoughts of hurting yourself in some way?
How difficult have these problems made it to do work, take care of things at home, or get along with other people?
Optional, not included in final score but may help assess global impairment
Scores ≤4 suggest minimal depression which may not require treatment.
Functionally, the patient does not report limitations due to their symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is non-systemic (does not circulate in the blood throughout the body), so it does not have side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, sedation, etc. The most common side effects reported during clinical trials were headache and scalp discomfort – generally mild to moderate – occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment.
No. TMS Therapy involves a unique method of using pulsed magnetic fields for therapeutic benefit. The intensity of the magnetic field is similar to that of the magnetic fields used in magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. These techniques differ radically from the popular use of low intensity, static magnetic fields. These products deliver weak and undirected static fields that are not capable of activating brain cells.
Yes. In clinical trials, TMS Therapy was safely administered with and without other antidepressant medications.
A typical course of TMS Therapy is 5 times per week for 19-37 minutes sessions, depending on what the doctor determines is the correct protocol, over 4-6 weeks.
Any additional treatments are based on clinical judgment.
Yes, patients are able to work, go to school, or continue any of their daily activities. Side effects are minimal and usually only involve discomfort at the site of treatment.
No, TMS Therapy uses the same type and strength of magnetic fields as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), which have been used in tens of millions of patients around the world and have not been shown to cause tumors. The magnetic energy used in a full course of TMS Therapy is a small fraction of just one brain scan with an MRI.
TMS Therapy has been shown to be well tolerated and the TMS Therapy system has been demonstrated to be safe in clinical trials. Throughout over 10,000 active treatments performed in clinical trials, the most commonly reported side effect related to treatment was scalp discomfort during treatment sessions. This side effect was generally mild to moderate, and occurred less frequently after the first week of treatment.
In clinical trials, over 10,000 TMS treatments demonstrated its safety, with no occurrence of seizures. However, there is a small risk of a seizure occurring during treatment. This risk is no greater than what has been observed with oral antidepressant medications.
While TMS Therapy has been demonstrated to be effective, not all patients will benefit from it. Patients should be carefully monitored for worsening symptoms, signs or symptoms of suicidal behavior, and/or unusual behavior. Families and caregivers should also be aware of the need to observe patients and notify their treatment provider if symptoms worsen.
In a clinical trial, 2 out of 3 patients who had either responded to treatment or completely remitted their depression symptoms reported 12 months later that they remained at the level they were at the end of the trial. Additionally, after the trial, only 1 in 3 patients needed to return for ‘maintenance’ TMS sessions.
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