woman researching tms therapy

Get Ready for Your First TMS Session

If you have depression and have not had success with therapy and medication, your treatment team may recommend Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). This technique often helps people heal from depression when they do not respond well to medication. It’s natural, and even healthy, to feel a little bit nervous about your first TMS session. However, learning a little more about the procedure and what to expect can help you feel hopeful about the potential benefits.

Know What TMS Is

An essential way to prepare for TMS is to understand what is and how it works. In these sessions, technicians stimulate a person’s brain using painless electromagnetic waves. Each session lasts for about 30 minutes, and most patients attend five sessions per week for four to six weeks.

TMS is entirely noninvasive, meaning the technician will not puncture your skin. Furthermore, it is entirely painless for most patients. In some cases, people feel mild discomfort on the skin. If this happens, it may mean that the team has increased the signal too quickly for you. Let the technician know if you feel discomfort, and the team can make adjustments.

TMS is not the same as the most infamous electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). In ECT, patients may experience pain and often need to stay for observation after treatment. On the other hand, TMS is painless and allows people to go about their daily lives after treatment.

Prepare Friends and Family

Because of the misunderstandings about TMS, the people who care about you may be worried about your treatment plan. However, it’s crucial to have the support of your loved ones as you go through the full course of TMS. A few tips can help ease your fears and those of your loved ones:

  • Your treatment team would not recommend TMS if they did not believe the benefits outweighed the risks
  • TMS could provide the relief you need from depression symptoms
  • This therapy is not invasive and is relatively safe

If someone can drive you to your first session, this may prove to be incredibly helpful. You can focus on finding some calmness in yourself before the session while your loved one worries about getting you there.

Furthermore, some patients experience mild headaches after their first few sessions. Having someone drive you home can prove helpful if this happens to you. These headaches typically stop happening after a few sessions, when the body gets used to TMS.

Bring Everything You Need

In additions to mentally preparing yourself and your loved ones, you should also consider packing a few helpful items for your TMS therapy:

  • Headphones/earbuds for listening to music or podcasts during treatment
  • Pain relievers, just in case you get a headache
  • A water bottle
  • A list of your current medications and dosages
  • Any comfort items you may want

If you have questions about your TMS therapy, give LifeStance Health a call. We strive to ensure you feel comfortable before, during, and after each session.