TMS Frequently Asked Questions
Can I take antidepressants while I undergo TMS therapy?
Yes. Clinical trials have shown that TMS is safe whether the patient take antidepressants or not. However, you should talk to your prescribing physician about your medication before you make any changes to your treatment plan.
How long do the positive effects of TMS last?
Studies have found that 2 out of every 3 patients who use TMS feel as mentally healthy one year after TMS therapy as they did when they first completed the therapy. 1 in every 3 patients need additional TMS after the initial treatment plan in order to maintain the wellness they achieved.
Does TMS therapy hurt?
Typically, no. Only five percent of people who tried TMS therapy stopped treatments because of their side effects.
The most common side effect of TMS is some scalp discomfort. This problem is usually mild or moderate, and the intensity of the discomfort lessens as the patient returns for more sessions, especially after the first week.
If the discomfort is too much for the patient, over-the-counter medications often help. In some cases, the doctor can reduce the strength of the magnetic pulses in order to provide some relief.
Are there risks in getting TMS therapy?
TMS therapy is approved as a depression treatment by the FDA. Clinical trials have shown it to be a safe and effective treatment. In fact, it is at least as safe as many antidepressants.
These studies included more than 10,000 TMS sessions. The most common issue was mild or moderate scalp discomfort, which often lessens or disappears after the first week. Some patients find relief with over-the-counter medications. There were so few side effects that only five percent of patients who used TMS therapy stopped treatment due to the effects.
However, all medical interventions carry some risks. Medical professionals, counselors, family members, and friends should monitor patients for any signs of worsening symptoms or thoughts of suicide.
What is the average course of TMS therapy?
Most patients receive TMS therapy for 37 minutes per day, five times per week, for about four to six weeks. However, doctors may change this timeframe for individual patients based on their clinical assessments.
Is TMS therapy the same thing as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?
No. Both TMS and ECT are effective ways to treat depression. However, most patients tolerate TMS better than ECT.
TMS sessions allow patients to stay awake throughout each 37-minute TMS session with no sedation. The procedure is so safe that patients can drive themselves home or to work immediately after the appointment.
On the other hand, ECT requires patients to go through sedation. Doctors administer paralyzation medication as well as muscle relaxers before the ECT purposefully triggers seizures. Patients then must stay in the facility for up to a few hours after the procedure to ensure safety.
ECT also has more common and serious side effects than TMS. For example, many ECT patients experience memory loss and confusion for a short time after each session. In some patients, these problems continue with no end in sight. The side effects can be so severe that patients need someone to carefully watch them for a while after ECT.
Are TMS Side Effects Similar to Medication Side Effects?
Many people ask us if TMS therapy is a good option for patients who experience intolerable side effects from medications such as antidepressants?
Because TMS does not affect the whole body by circulating in the blood system the way medication does, it does not cause the side effects of antidepressants that many people cannot tolerate. While medications may cause weight gain, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, and nausea, TMS does not.
Instead, the most common side effect of TMS is mild to moderate discomfort of the scalp during the treatments. This problem often resolves after the first week and can be managed through over-the-counter medicines.
Does insurance cover TMS therapy?
Absolutely! Most insurance plans cover TMS. However, you should talk to our intake specialists to discover details about your specific plan.
How does TMS work?
In TMS sessions, a device sends short, stimulating magnetic pulses to a specific part of the brain. This area often functions differently in people with depression, and stimulating the brain cells in this area is thought to help ease the symptoms of depression.
Patients typically need 37-minute sessions five days per week for four to six weeks.
What is TMS?
The letters TMS stand for “transcranial magnetic stimulation. It’s an FDA-approved, effective, and safe method for treating depression. It stimulates areas of the brains affected by depression.