When treating mental health conditions like depression and other treatment-resistant illnesses, TMS is an innovative and effective treatment. With TMS maintenance therapy, you can maintain your positive outcome and keep your hard-earned progress. If you are considering TMS or have already tried it, it’s important to familiarize yourself with this step in the treatment process. Taking the time to understand TMS maintenance therapy will help you make the best treatment decision for your individual needs and goals.
What Is TMS?
Before we discuss TMS maintenance therapy, let’s briefly go over what TMS is in general. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a revolutionary non-invasive treatment for treatment-resistant depression. It works by using powerful magnetic pulses to target and stimulate certain regions of the brain that are believed to play a role in causing depression symptoms. The magnetic pulses are delivered through electromagnetic coils within a headpiece that is placed on a person during their session.
TMS is a safe, FDA-approved treatment for treatment-resistant depression. It can also help patients find relief from other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD, and more.
What Is TMS Maintenance Therapy?
A typical course of TMS treatment is five days a week for four to six weeks. One in two patients treated experiences a 50% reduction in their symptoms. Additionally, about 30% of patients experience full remission, which means that their symptoms go away completely.
Many patients experience a positive outcome immediately after their course. However, studies have shown that 40% of patients will likely experience at least some worsening of symptoms within three months of completing TMS, and 50% of patients worsening of symptoms between months six and twelve.
TMS maintenance therapy is simply a follow-up treatment that patients receive to keep their depression symptoms in check. If a patient experiences an increase in symptoms, they can talk to their provider about getting maintenance treatments. Their provider will work with them to determine the frequency of these treatments, whether that’s weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.
What Is Involved in a TMS Maintenance Therapy Session?
A maintenance session will be very similar to your typical TMS sessions. Your provider may need to remeasure your motor threshold, which is done at your very first TMS treatment session. To do this, your provider will measure your head and customize the amount of magnetic energy to your brain shape and sensitivity. To customize it all just right, your provider will test a motor function on a hand or foot. They will then determine the lowest dose needed to make that target move 50% of the time, which is your motor threshold. Your dosage will be based on your motor threshold and should give you enough treatment to help you but not enough to overstimulate the brain.
If your provider needs to remeasure your motor threshold, your session may take a bit longer. However, the TMS treatment itself should last 20-25 minutes. During treatment, you will be sitting in a comfortable chair with the headpiece positioned over your head. You will feel a tap like a woodpecker on your scalp as the pulses are sent to your brain. Since you haven’t been treated in a while, the sensation might be a bit uncomfortable, but it should be generally tolerable.
How To Know If You Need TMS Maintenance Therapy
If you struggle with depression or another mental health condition, you know that symptoms can creep up on you. Waiting until your symptoms are peaking again before getting help is not ideal. To address this issue, we at Mindful Health Solutions created a new program for our previous TMS patients called MHS Connect.
After completing the final treatment in their TMS therapy course, we ask patients if they would like to enroll in MHS Connect. If they do, we send them bi-weekly PHQ-9s to complete. If we notice their score increasing (meaning their symptoms are increasing), we check in with them. We see how they are doing and if they would like to schedule a maintenance treatment with their provider.
Why TMS Is Worth It
Some people never need maintenance treatment following TMS. However, even if you do need maintenance, transcranial magnetic stimulation is still very much worth your time and effort. Why? The main reason people turn to TMS is that medications were not helping them find relief. Rather than taking medication after medication, searching for one that actually helps without uncomfortable side effects, TMS is a safe treatment that works with very limited side effects.
If TMS helps someone find relief, it is usually after they have tried many other options with no success. And if their symptoms begin returning a couple of months down the road, doing a maintenance treatment once every so often is a much larger benefit than having no relief at all.
TMS maintenance treatments are a valuable resource for those who have experienced relief from their mental health conditions after a course of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Maintenance treatments help you maintain the positive outcome from your course and can make a huge difference in the quality of your life.
If you’re considering TMS maintenance therapy, it’s important to get a personalized treatment plan from a certified TMS provider to make sure that the treatment is right for you and fits your individual needs. With the proper planning and care, it can provide you with the support and relief you need to achieve long-term mental health success.
Interested in getting started with TMS or are you looking for maintenance treatments? Call us today at 844-867-8444 to get the support you deserve.