TMS Therapy for Anxiety: What It Treats, Benefits, Side Effects, and Costs

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a psychiatric breakthrough. It treats depression and anxiety, and so many more. It is an FDA-approved, non-invasive medical procedure that activates your brain’s neurotransmitters’ natural function through painless magnetic pulses. 

It stimulates your scalp, reaching the mood center of your brain to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. TMS is typically used when other depression treatments or medications haven’t been effective.

TMS is non-systemic which means it does not go through your whole body as medication does. This means a huge decrease in side effects. Side effects of TMS are minimal and in most cases involve only discomfort at the treatment site and mild headaches. These usually subside within the first 2 weeks of treatment.

TMS works with the treatment of anxiety by accessing your limbic system. Your limbic system regulates the emotional center of the brain. The amygdala is a crucial part of the brain that works to process our emotions. It controls our fight-or-flight responses. If you suffer from anxiety, for example, generalized anxiety disorder or GAD then your brain is hyperactive in the amygdala. This is what causes extreme symptoms that characterize an anxiety disorder. TMS treats anxiety by bringing the neurons in your brain back to a healthy level, relieving stubborn symptoms of anxiety.

A recent study of TMS for patients with GAD consisted of six sessions over three weeks (twice a week) of low-frequency stimulation over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or DLPFC. TMS resulted in noticeable improvements in the patients’ symptoms of anxiety. These improvements remained consistent over a six-month period upon follow-up.

At the 2014 American Psychiatric Association meeting, the results of a randomized controlled study were shared. GAD patients were given either active TMS or a placebo treatment using a ‘sham’ coil. In this study, low-frequency stimulation was applied to the DLPFC for 30 sessions — 5 sessions every week for 6 weeks. The scientists found that over two-thirds or 71% of the TMS group responded favorably to the treatment. Only one-quarter of the sham group experienced positive effects.

At the 3-month follow-up, the positive effects were sustained in the group receiving repetitive active TMS. 43% of patients in this group experienced symptom remission. However, only one patient in the sham group experienced the same thing.

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What TMS Treats

TMS is given in the office without sedation. You will be reclined in a comfortable spa chair and will feel a tapping session on your scalp throughout the duration of your session. You will remain awake and alert the whole time and you can even enjoy a TV show, use your phone, listen to music, and gain support by speaking with your treating technician during your treatment. Treatment time varies from 16 minutes to about 40 minutes and is given once a day, usually from Monday to Friday for 6 weeks.

Why TMS?

· Non-invasive

· Covered by most insurance

· No side effects of medications

· Safe & FDA approved

· Long-lasting results

· Not an Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

· You are struggling with managing your mental health.

· You are not responding to anti-depressants.

TMS Benefits

Approximately 50%-60% of people with depression who have failed to benefit from medications experience a clinical response with TMS. One-third of these individuals achieve full remission. Although not always permanent as with any treatment for something with a high recurrence rate like depression. Most TMS patients feel better for many months after treatment with an average length of at least one year. Many patients will come back for additional rounds of treatment or remain on what we call maintenance treatments. For example, after completing a full round of treatment, patients will continue to come once per month to avoid any relapse in mood.

Long-term remission becomes less likely with each prescription medication attempt. Our TMS machine makes long-term remission possible and unlike medication delivers the right dose to the right spot every time.

TMS Side Effects

Repetitive TMS is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation used for depression. Unlike vagus nerve stimulation or deep brain stimulation, rTMS does not require surgery or implantation of electrodes. And, unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), rTMS doesn’t cause seizures or require sedation with anesthesia.

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Generally, rTMS is considered safe and well-tolerated. However, it can cause some side effects.

TMS side effects are uncommon. If complications do occur, they may include:

  • mild headaches (most common)
  • lightheadedness
  • scalp pain
  • neck pain
  • tingling
  • facial twitching
  • sleepiness
  • altered cognition during treatment

Symptoms like headaches and lightheadedness usually go away after several treatments.

There’s also the risk of seizures, but this side effect is rare. There’s a 0.1 percent risk of developing seizures during the course of TMS therapy.

TMS Average Costs

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Prepare to shell out around US$6,000- US$12,000, when you start TMS therapy.

Many health insurance providers would cover up the cost but still put into consideration your medical history. We will require you to try a few antidepressants before finally getting TMS therapy.

Only until you have tried every other option on our list and had adverse or negative reactions to the other options will you be given the go signal for TMS therapy.

Here at Roots TMS, we are dedicated to providing the highest level of safety and support to our patients. There might be times that you would doubt your decision to come forward and seek help but you should know that our doors are always open and ready to welcome you or someone you love to finally get the help they deserve. We know how hard it is to fight depression and anxiety, and yes, you are not alone. Many people have missed the opportunity to start a new and better life for themselves because they got scared. Do not be afraid though, for we are here for you. Our entire treatment team is here to help and guide you on your journey to wellness. You can always send us an email at info@rootstms.com or give us a call at (562) 203-0567 to start your healing journey.

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