When you’re struggling with depression, it can be really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But now more than ever, there is one. If you have tried antidepressant after antidepressant with no relief of your symptoms and possibly uncomfortable side effects on top of your usual symptoms, then Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is an option for you to consider. This innovative and alternative treatment option is fairly new in the world of mental health care but has positive and long-term results with little to no side effects. Please don’t lose hope. Give TMS a try.
What is TMS?
TMS stands for “transcranial magnetic stimulation” and it was FDA-approved in 2008 as a safe, non-invasive, non-medication treatment for clinical depression. TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate the specific part of the brain known to control mood. It is used on people with mental health conditions that have not seen success with medications and/or antidepressants. TMS has extremely limited side effects, especially when compared to traditional medications and antidepressants, so it is also a treatment option for people who may be suffering from side effects while trying to experience relief from their condition.
What does TMS treat?
Since its FDA approval as a depression treatment in 2008, further studies have shown that it has the potential to treat a wide range of conditions, many of which can be debilitating. Although the Mindful Health Solutions team focuses primarily on alleviating the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, our clinics also provide treatment for other conditions like:
- Autism in adults
- Bipolar disorder
- Body dysmorphia
- Certain types of chronic pain
- Memory disorders
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Mild dementia
- Multiple sclerosis
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Smoking cessation
There is also evidence TMS may help in recovery from stroke. Research and studies on the impact of TMS are continuing, and we at Mindful Health Solutions are excited to be at the forefront of it.
How does TMS work?
TMS delivers localized electromagnetic pulses to the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of your brain that regulates mood. These electromagnetic pulses stimulate neurons, which release neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters work to relieve symptoms of depression. Once these neurons are stimulated by TMS, they continue to release these neurotransmitters for a longer period of time compared to other treatments like antidepressants.
Patients who failed 2 antidepressants are 2x more likely to achieve remission with TMS.
Patients who receive TMS or Esketamine versus conventional medication are more likely to recover from depression at their 12 month follow-up.
TMS is effective in approximately 70% of patients.
What does a TMS session look like?
During a TMS treatment, the patient sits in a comfortable chair while the TMS coil is properly set in place on their head. (While this may sound intimidating, it really isn’t!) After the headpiece is in place, electromagnetic pulses are sent to the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for mood.
While the pulses are being sent to the brain, patients can watch TV, listen to music, or talk with our staff. If they want and are comfortable, they can also have a friend or family member in the room with them during their TMS treatment session.
Each treatment lasts about 20-30 minutes. The full course of treatment will generally be five days a week for four to six weeks. Generally, patients will feel just like their normal selves after their treatment sessions. They will be able to drive and go back to their regular activities. Some people report feeling a little tired or having a mild headache, but that usually goes away after the first week or two. Other people report more energy and better focus, as well as the ability to ignore obsessive, anxious thoughts after treatment.
Are there any side effects?
TMS treatments do not hurt during or after each session. There are very few side effects of TMS therapy. Most side effects are mild and short-lasting, and can include:
- Scalp discomfort
- Twitching or tingling of the facial muscles
Many patients find the headpiece to be uncomfortable on their scalp and mild headaches are common during the first few treatments, but these generally go away within the first two weeks as people get used to the sensation. Patients rarely drop out of TMS because of side effects.
More serious side effects happen very rarely, but can consist of:
- Hearing problems from the loud clicking noise that occurs during treatment
- Mania, which is more likely to occur if an adolescent has bipolar disorder
However, our expert providers will use their professional knowledge to help avoid serious side effects like the ones listed above.
Your path to treatment
In order to qualify for TMS treatments, you have to have tried at least two medication management plans and either not experienced relief of your symptoms or experienced uncomfortable side effects from them. If that is the case, your provider will talk to you about integrating TMS therapy into your customized treatment plan.
It is important to understand that mental health treatment plans are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Because of this situation, treatment plans may take longer or require different treatment option combinations to work best for certain patients. It is important for patients to communicate clearly with their provider about how their treatment plan is working. Collaboration between patient and provider can greatly impact the results of a patient’s wellness journey.
Why Mindful Health Solutions for TMS?
We have been a leader in providing TMS therapy to patients like you. Our expert psychiatrists not only provide treatments but are also at the forefront of TMS research. If you are considering TMS treatment, you can rest assured that you would get the most professional and safe treatment possible with us at Mindful Health Solutions.
Overall, we understand the importance of patient-centered care and understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to mental health treatment. Patients respond well to the dynamic menu of treatments we offer, which includes traditional medication management and psychotherapy as well as cutting-edge alternatives.
Mindful Health Solutions also wants to make treatment comfortable and accessible. If patients are unable to physically come into the office or prefer a virtual appointment, Mindful Health Solutions offers telepsychiatry. This allows patients to get care from wherever they are in the state. We also foster a strong culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our therapists strive to embody a sense of awareness, respect, and humility with regard to cultural differences. And last but not least, we accept most major insurances.