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8 FAQs About TMS Sessions To Reassure You

Depression is a global public health concern. To help combat this disease, patients can try different treatment approaches. Aside from psychotherapy and medications, there are also alternative methods like TMS sessions.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a non-invasive procedure that activates dormant areas of the brain, alleviating symptoms of depression.

Historically, the concept of using electrical energy to treat medical conditions can be traced back more than a century ago. However, it was only in 1985 that TMS came to light.

Doctor Anthony Barker pioneered the first transcranial magnetic stimulation device. This equipment aims to alter one’s brain’s activity through magnetic fields. Once it delivers magnetic pulses to the brain, it can depolarize neurons and make them release neurotransmitters that will regulate brain functions.

This technique is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a clinical treatment for depression. Many studies have been published to demonstrate its lasting effect on other mental health disorders. It has shown positive changes in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

8 FAQs About TMS Sessions

Since TMS therapy is a relatively new procedure, many people still don’t know much about it. This post will answer the public’s frequently asked questions regarding this treatment.

1. What Conditions Does TMS Treat?

TMS is primarily used in people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Clinicians usually recommend this treatment when the patient is resistant to antidepressants or if psychotherapy fails to work.

People struggling with generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder can also find relief through this therapy.

However, an in-depth research is needed to understand how TMS can benefit people struggling with other conditions like stroke, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

2. What Happens in TMS Procedures?

Before the treatment, you will be asked to remove any magnetic-sensitive objects from your body. You will also be asked to wear earplugs to ensure comfort and hearing protection.

Once seated, the technician will position the TMS coil over your scalp and administer brief pulses to determine your motor threshold. Gauging the motor threshold allows the technician to tailor the therapy settings and calculate the amount of energy needed to trigger brain cells.

Once finished, the coil is brought forward to the front part of the patient’s brain, and the therapy starts. You may feel a tapping sensation and a series of clicking sounds during the session. If it becomes uncomfortable, you can stop the treatment at any time.

3. How Long is a TMS Therapy?

A TMS therapy is comprised of multiple sessions. The length may vary depending on your condition, the coil that will be used, and the number of pulses delivered.

A typical TMS procedure lasts from 19 to 37 minutes, five times per week, within four to six weeks. This protocol may differ based on your doctor’s advice.

4. Are TMS Sessions Safe For Pregnant Women?

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Pregnant women who are hesitant to take antidepressants may consider Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It uses electromagnetic pulses to target specific brain areas and regulate one’s mood. It is proven to be a safe and effective treatment for depression, even for an expecting mother.

A study concluded that TMS could be a beneficial alternative therapy for pregnant women with depression. Nine out of 12 women, or 75% of the participants who received active TMS, showed favorable results at the end of 20 sessions.

Another research observed 26 children ages one to five years old whose mothers had undergone TMS therapy during pregnancy. None of them has shown any adverse effects on the fetus or child.

5. What are the Side Effects of TMS?

TMS therapy is well-tolerated by many patients, and only a small percentage do not complete the whole treatment. While it is proven safe, it does not mean that patients won’t experience any side effects.

Some people report having mild headaches, scalp pain, neck pain, facial twitching, drowsiness, and altered cognition during treatment. Symptoms such as headaches and lightheadedness usually subside after a few sessions.

6. Is TMS Covered By Insurance?

Most insurance companies offer coverage for the treatment of depression. It is important to check your policy for specifics, including plan limitations, since each provider has its own benefits schedule and eligibility requirements for TMS therapy.

Now, if you have Medicare, they may cover your TMS procedure if you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
  • You’ve tried 4 antidepressants from at least 2 different classes and still do not show a significant clinical response.
  • You cannot take antidepressants due to complications or side effects.

7. How Effective is TMS for Depression?

An estimated 50% to 60% of people with depression who were drug-resistant have experienced a positive response after undergoing TMS therapy. 

To check the efficacy of TMS in drug-resistant depression, a group of researchers conducted a randomized study with 40 participants.

The patients received either an active rTMS or a placebo rTMS to the left prefrontal cortex. Upon study completion, the researchers concluded that the active rTMS significantly decreased the score of some patients on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.

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8. Who Cannot Undergo TMS Sessions?

People with treatment-resistant depression are not automatically qualified for TMS therapy. Those with a metal implant in their heads or necks may be forbidden to undergo this treatment.

Some types of metal devices that could hinder you from receiving TMS sessions include:

  • Aneurysm clips
  • Cochlear implants
  • Jewelry or hair accessories
  • Metal stents and other medical implants with metal
  • Shrapnel or bullet fragments
  • Tattoos containing magnetic or magnetic-sensitive ink

Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is a breakthrough treatment for mental health conditions, such as depression. It could alleviate the symptoms of patients who weren’t able to get better with antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Since it is non-invasive, patients can return to their daily routine right after each session. Thanks to its potent effects, many people have found success in this procedure.

Dedicated to Improving Your Well-being

If you have symptoms of depression that cannot be relieved by standard treatments, Roots TMS can help. Our experts can provide you with a complete evaluation to determine whether you are eligible for TMS therapy. To schedule an appointment, you may contact us at (562) 561-2455.