September 10

TMS Therapy for Depression: What To Expect

TMS involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain in order to improve any symptoms associated with depression. This is a non-invasive procedure that should be performed in a doctor’s office by a medical professional. It is usually recommended when the combination of medication and talk therapy has failed to work, as they are typically the first line of defense when someone is seeking treatment for depression. 
 

TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and it is a form of therapy that is specifically used as treatment for severe depression. TMS involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain in order to improve any symptoms associated with depression. This is a non-invasive procedure that should be performed in a doctor’s office by a medical professional. It is usually recommended when the combination of medication and talk therapy has failed to work, as they are typically the first line of defense when someone is seeking treatment for depression. Unfortunately for some, your depression medication may become ineffective due to the body building a tolerance. Studies have consistently shown that TMS therapy does work for those with treatment-resistant depression and can provide long-term relief. It is also FDA approved. So, you may want to look into TMS therapy for depression as a non-pharmacological alternative.  


How TMS is Done 

The concept behind TMS is that certain parts of the brain that control mood are underperforming. Stimulating the nerve cells that are associated with mood and depression will affect neurotransmitter levels, which should improve both mood and depressive symptoms. When having TMS therapy, an electromagnetic coil is placed against the forehead and delivers magnetic pulses to the necessary areas of the brain. The targeted areas are mapped out first as part of your individual treatment plan. This is a rather intensive form of treatment, as it requires multiple sessions over the course of multiple weeks. While every person may have varied results from treatment, typically many begin to experience relief from their depression symptoms within a few sessions. A normal round of TMS will be anywhere between 20-50 minutes, 5 days a week, around 4 to 6 weeks.  

While TMS therapy should not be painful, there may be some side effects that patients may experience. TMS is considered a safe (and generally well-tolerated) treatment with mild side effects. Some patients may experience light headaches and some mild skin irritation. These symptoms should only be mild to moderate, and the doctor may just need to adjust the level of stimulation. You may be able to treat these mild side effects with over-the-counter pain relievers. Rarely, there can be a few serious side effects that may occur. One of the most serious side effects is the potential for seizures, and why this treatment is not an appropriate option for those who suffer from epilepsy or have a history of seizures. 

Before you partake in TMS therapy you will need to have an evaluation to see if this is the right option for you. This will include both a physical and psychological exam. During the exam, you need to be sure that your doctor knows if you are pregnant, have any metal implants anywhere in your body, are on any medications, have any illnesses or injuries of the brain, or have any other health conditions.  


Why You Should Consider TMS Treatment for Depression 

If you have never heard of TMS before then it might sound a little scary at first. A frequently asked question is if it is the same thing as Electroconvulsive Therapy or “shock therapy,” which was invented in the late 1930s and has a very controversial history. Do not worry though because they are not the same thing. ECT has been known to trigger serious effects like memory problems and seizures. TMS therapy, on the other hand, only provides mild stimulation and is considered a safe practice, as it is non-invasive and FDA-approved. Since it does not require you to go under general anesthesia, like ECT does, it also eliminates any risks of the negative side effects of anesthesia.  

Depression can be very debilitating and rob you of the joys of everyday life and major milestones. It is not something that can be completely cured but there is hope that it can be managed and you can function in life again, with an increase in mood, rather than being possibly bed-ridden. Conventional medicine and talk therapy can do wonders for people, but it is not for everyone and it can fail. TMS therapy for depression has a very high success rate, although the exact science behind why it does work is still not fully understood. If no other treatments have worked then it is worth it to try TMS for the possible benefits you stand to gain if it’s successful.   


What Gemini TMS Can Do for You 

Gemini TMS understands the suffering individuals experiencing chronic depression go through, and we are there to help.   

When you come to Gemini TMS you will have the opportunity to have a free consultation with the therapy team to determine if you are a good candidate for TMS. Once you have been approved you will work together with your therapist to determine an individualized treatment plan that best suits your mental health needs.  

Before the first treatment begins the professional will conduct something called mapping. This is a process that determines the location of the brain that they will need to target and the level of “dosage,” that is best for you. To do this, the professional will use the TMS device to send quick electromagnetic pulses to your motor pathway until your fingers or hand twitches (again this should not be painful). Your dosage should be assessed again as you progress with the therapy and it can always be changed at any point if need be.   

For your appointment for TMS therapy, you will be escorted to a private treatment room, where a TMS specialist will make you feel comfortable, and set you up to receive treatment. Patients remain awake through treatment. As previously stated, TMS therapy does not require anesthesia, and individuals are able to drive themselves to and from sessions. The first appointment will be the longest. During your session, you will be sitting in a chair and since you will be awake you can do things, like reading, watching tv, or listening to music. You may also choose to wear earplugs to keep yourself calm and create a quiet environment if that’s what you prefer, as the machine does make some noise. There is no hospitalization or recovery time and you are free to go straight home afterward. 

TMS therapy alone can help you manage your symptoms. However, it can also be used in conjunction with medication and talk therapy if you continue with those courses of treatment.  

If you are ready to schedule an appointment for your first consultation, call (301) 363-1063 to speak with our highly qualified staff.


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