Below you will find a list of common questions we have been asked about TMS Therapy. If you do not see your question listed below, or have additional questions, please contact our office to speak with a certified TMS Coordinator who would be happy to address any concerns you may have.
“As a therapist, one of the greatest rewards of my work is watching clients set and achieve goals that enhance the quality of their lives in ways they could not have imagined prior to coming to therapy. When someone comes to me, though, and is struggling to make progress as a result of being medication resistant, the frustration they suffer with tends to stifle “the work” in therapy; they are unable to process and practice the skills they’re learning when their mood is heavy with depression and their thoughts scattered from anxiety. Fortunately, for these clients, TMS is available as an alternative intervention. I am so grateful to Dr. Cress and her staff for the help they have given several of my clients who have pursued TMS when other options to treat their depression/anxiety have failed. I have seen great results – the best outcomes being with clients who completed their prescribed course of TMS treatments (and followed up with boosters as needed) and continued with therapy. Clients have reported feeling an elevated mood, more energy, less ruminating thoughts, and clearer, more rational thinking patterns. These benefits help maximize the potential for getting unstuck in therapy. I strongly recommend that anyone seeking relief from intrusive and debilitating patterns of depression/anxiety consider TMS as an option. There is hope and you’re well-being is worth the investment.”
– Samantha Lafoon, M.Ed, LPC, WC
TMS Therapy Basics
What Is TMS Therapy?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment for depression and other mood disorders using an MRI-strength magnetic pulse to stimulate neurons in the brain.
Who Can Receive TMS?
TMS Therapy is FDA-cleared for patients with major depressive disorder who have not received satisfactory results from prior antidepressant medications. We have treated many patients suffering from mood disorders other than depression and have had success. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with depression and/or has not achieved satisfactory improvement from medications, then TMS Therapy may be able to help.
Who Should NOT Receive TMS?
TMS Therapy is a safe and well-tolerated treatment with very few limitations. However, not all patients are appropriate candidates. To find out if TMS is right for you, contact our office to set up an initial consultation with Dr. Kimberly Cress. Dr. Cress will carefully screen patients’ medical histories to determine if TMS is a treatment option.
TMS Therapy Process
How Long Is A Typical TMS Therapy Course?
Because each person’s treatment needs are different and treatment is individualized, the length of a TMS Therapy course can vary. A usual course of treatment for depression involves sessions 5 days a week for 4 to 6 weeks, although this can differ on a person’s response. You will receive a personalized treatment plan prior to starting TMS Therapy, and your progress will be monitored throughout the entire course of treatment.
What Should I Expect During A TMS Treatment?
Because TMS is delivered with no sedation or anesthesia, patients can immediately resume normal activities after each session including driving, returning to work or school, or other routines.
How Long Does Each Session Last?
TMS treatments are performed 5 days a week and each treatment lasts between 30-60 minutes. Because each treatment plan is individualized, treatment time can vary based on what protocol is prescribed. Each appointment is scheduled for 1 hour so there is adequate time to treat comfortably with no rush.
How Long Will TMS Last?
In most patients, the benefit of TMS Therapy was maintained through 6 months of follow-up study in clinical trials. At the TMS Serenity Center we have had individuals continue to live life free from depression more than 3 years after their TMS treatment.
Will I Need Retreatment?
On occasion, if individuals become overwhelmed with life stressors, depression or anxiety symptoms may return. These patients can come back for a booster TMS. Booster TMS are typically 1 to 3 treatments to help reset their mood. Therefore, the long-term treatment plan is unique to each individual.
Benefits and Safety
How Long Does It Take To Feel Results?
TMS is recommended for 4 to 6 weeks based on how quickly a patient’s mood improves and remains stable. Not uncommonly, patients begin to experience results within the first 2 weeks.
What Is The Most Common Side Effect?
The most common side effect related to treatment was scalp discomfort during treatment sessions. This side effect was generally mild to moderate, and occurred less frequently after the first week of treatment. Individuals with migraine headaches tolerate the treatment well and some find their migraine headaches improving as a result of TMS Therapy.
If necessary, you can treat this discomfort with an over-the-counter analgesic. If these side effects persist, Dr. Cress can temporarily reduce the strength of the magnetic field pulses being administered in order to make treatment more comfortable.
Does TMS Hurt?
The actual TMS feels like a tapping on the skull. TMS is essentially painless because the induced current does not pass through the skin, where most of the pain nerve endings are located. Less than 5 percent of patients treated with TMS Therapy discontinued treatment due to side effects.
Can I Get Off Of Medications After TMS Therapy?
Many patients who suffer from antidepressant medication side effects or feel they are taking too much medication to manage their mood disorder have the desire to lessen medications during or after TMS Therapy. Our goal is to help get patients to a stable mood state and potentially lessen the dosage or amount of medications. At the TMS Serenity Center, we have had success in lowering or eliminating medications in patients who maintained mood stability after TMS. However, each patient is different, and we carefully monitor each patient’s needs individually.
TMS Therapy VS. Other Treatments
Is TMS Like ECT?
No, the two procedures are very different. While both are effective in the treatment of depression, there are many differences in safety and tolerability. During the TMS Therapy procedure, patients sit in a chair and are awake and alert throughout the entire 37-minute procedure – no sedation is used with TMS Therapy. Patients can transport themselves to and from treatment. In over 10,000 active treatments with TMS Therapy in clinical trials, no seizures were observed. TMS Therapy was also shown to have no negative effects on memory function in these studies.
In contrast, “shock therapy,” or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), intentionally causes a seizure. Patients receiving ECT must be sedated with general anesthesia and paralyzed with muscle relaxants. Recovery from an ECT treatment session occurs slowly, and patients are usually closely monitored for minutes or a few hours after a treatment.
Short-term confusion and memory loss are common, and long-term disruptions in memory have been shown to occur and may persist indefinitely in some people. Because of the side effects associated with ECT, a significant amount of caregiver support is required.
What Is The Difference Between TMS and Antidepressant Medications?
Antidepressant medications have numerous side effects such as weight gain, sexual side effects, gastrointestinal distress, insomnia, fatigue, and others. Unlike medications, TMS is non-systemic and does not enter the blood stream, meaning there are little to no side effects.
Is TMS Therapy A Good Alternative to Medications?
TMS Therapy is also a good alternative for patients who cannot tolerate the side effects associated with antidepressant medications or do not wish to take them. Many patients suffer intolerable side effects to commonly used antidepressants. TMS is non-systemic, so nothing enters your body or your bloodstream. That means that TMS is free of side effects typically associated with these medications. This also means that patients can immediately return to regular activity after TMS sessions.