TMS Treatment Information
TMS is a powerful way to treat Major Depressive Disorder. It uses magnetic coils to stimulate electrical activity in the brain. This promotes activity in the part of the brain which is typically less active in people with depression. Medications affect the brain chemically. TMS affects the brain electrically, and without the side effects people usually have with medications.
We are sure you have lots of questions! We have included some of the most common questions below. If you need more information or are interested in establishing care, please give us a call or shoot us an email.
36 Total Sessions
What is TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an evidence based, non-invasive procedure that is used in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. Through the use of a magnetic coil, pulsating magnetic fields are used to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. The use of TMS for treatment of depression has been found to be not only highly effective in reducing symptoms, but also cost effective for patients. TMS uses a magnetic field to stimulate a specific target region in the brain that controls mood, using it to treat symptoms of depression by activating the neural pathways.
Is TMS safe?
TMS is incredibly safe. Medications can run the risk of serious side effects, such as weight gain and weight loss, worsening depression and anxiety, sexual side effects, digestive issues, and more. TMS has few, if any, risks. The most common issues are headaches, and these typically go away after a week or so. There is also a small risk of seizures, less than 0.1%. However, with current safety and treatment protocols seizures are very unlikely. Additionally, people may report worsening depression around halfway through treatment as the structure of the network in the brain changes. This typically resolves quickly, and people report that their depression has improved.
How do I know if I am a good fit for TMS?
TMS is approved by the FDA for treatment-resistant depression. This means that medications and therapy have not been effective in treating your depression. TMS is a good option for most people. However, people with metal plates or implants in their head would not qualify. A history of seizures or psychosis may also disqualify you from treatment, however a clinician will review your information at the first appointment to ensure you are a safe candidate.
How long does TMS take?
The full course of TMS treatment is a significant commitment! We think that the improvement people see with their depressive symptoms is worth the time it takes. The first appointment takes around an hour to determine the strength of your specific treatment and the unique positioning of the coil relative to your head. Each individual treatment from there runs for about 20 minutes. The appointments are typically 5 days a week for 6 weeks. There is usually a taper at the end of the treatment for 2 weeks, where the frequency of appointments reduces. This amounts to around 36 total appointments. We work hard to make sure that the time of day of your appointments works well for you.
How effective is TMS?
TMS is an effective treatment for depression. The FDA clearance study found a 50.6% response rate and 24.7% remission rate. Some studies show even better results: one showed 67.7% response and 45.1% remission a year after receiving TMS. These rates are similar to antidepressants, without the potential side effects. Every person is different, and the success of TMS will vary from person to person. Evidence suggests that people who are less treatment-resistant will respond better to TMS than those who are highly treatment-resistant.
How long do the effects of TMS last?
Like the effectiveness of TMS, how long the effects last varies from patient to patient. Studies have looked at patients a year after completing treatment: most people still reported a reduction in their symptoms, and almost half reported they were still in remission! Our brains are always changing. If it seems like your depressive symptoms are getting worse after some time has passed since receiving TMS, please reach out to us and we can discuss retreatment. There have been no observed long-term consequences associated with TMS. It is a fairly new treatment, and more research will emerge on the long-terms effects as studies are conducted.
Do I need to stop taking medications or going to therapy?
No! Current evidence suggests that using TMS with therapy or alongside your current medications improves your outcomes. Combining TMS with therapy is highly recommended. Using therapy to build new pathways with the help of TMS is advisable for many patients. If the TMS is succesful, you could consider speaking with your psychiatrist about changing or reducing your medications. Our clinical staff will coach you on next steps as your treatment concludes.
Can I drink alcohol while doing TMS?
Drinking during TMS is very risky, as it increases the likelihood of seizures. TMS has a known association with seizures. While seizures during TMS are rare, alcohol use increases the risk. We advise all patients to abstain from drinking while receiving TMS.
How much does TMS cost?
At Minneapolis TMS the full course of treatment costs around $4,000. We are proud to offer this treatment at a more affordable cost than many other providers. We will work with you to acquire authorization from your health insurance. However, cost sharing (copays, deductibles, coinsurance) will typically still apply. Like any healthcare services, it is advisable to check with your health insurance for specific coverage guidelines.
Does TMS hurt?
Everyone responds differently. We tell everyone: it shouldn't be painful, but it will probably be annoying. It is an unusual sensation, like a tapping on your head. We typically start the intensity of the stimulation lower, then increase it as treatment progresses. By week two, most people are not bothered at all. It can cause headaches, but these are usually taken care of sufficiently with tylenol or ibuprofen. We also offer earplugs if you find that the sound of the coil clicking is too loud. Our goal is to make your life better, not cause you pain! We will work together to make sure your experience is tolerable and effective.
Can I work and do other things while getting TMS?
Yes! Some people even come over during their lunch breaks. Unlike ECT, which requires anesthesia, you are fully awake during TMS treatment. Some people even report feeling more awake after receiving the treatment, like having a cup of coffee!