Haven’t heard of TMS? You’re not alone.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a method of changing neural (nerve-related) activity in the brain – without surgery or pills. TMS is used to treat depression, especially when standard depression treatments (medication and talk therapy) haven’t worked. It also has been shown to help patients who have anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and more.
During a TMS treatment session, a medical device is positioned over a small section of your head, usually above the ear. From there, it delivers magnetic energy pulses into areas of the brain which are associated with mood regulation.
The good news is no surgery is needed, and nothing needs to be inserted or implanted. TMS is a safe, effective, and entirely noninvasive procedure.
Want to know more? Here are 10 frequently asked questions about transcranial magnetic stimulation, and where you can go in Denver if you’re considering TMS therapy to treat clinical depression or another mental health issue:
Am I a Good Candidate for TMS?
TMS treatment works wonderfully for most people. However, anyone who has metal inside or near their head cannot undergo TMS, because this technology utilizes strong magnets during the treatment. The magnets can pull on the metal and potentially cause harm inside your body.
Examples of metal that may be in your body include aneurysm coils, stents in arteries in the neck, implanted electrodes, shrapnel, and even tattoos that have metallic ink. Also, anyone who is currently undergoing deep brain stimulation should avoid TMS.
TMS can also be dependent on your insurance benefits. Most plans will cover TMS for depression if you have been on several medications and had some therapy in the past. For other diagnoses, there are options to pay out of pocket, but the treatment can be pretty expensive.
How Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work?
The electromagnetic pulses delivered by the TMS device travel through your skull and into the brain, where it stimulates neural activity. The magnetic pulses will have the intensity and frequency needed to achieve the best results for you.
What Will TMS Help Me With?
For most people, the usual treatment – i.e., medication and therapy – are sufficient to curb their depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, or other symptoms. If you need more than this to tackle your issue, transcranial magnetic stimulation may be used in conjunction with your existing therapies, or it may be tried on its own.
What Does TMS Feel Like?
While TMS is not painful, it produces a clicking sound with each pulse – similar to the sound produced during an MRI scan. The sensation felt during a transcranial magnetic stimulation session has been likened to a tapping or knocking on your head, accompanied by a tingling sensation. Sometimes, depending on the position of the TMS equipment, it may cause some temporary facial twitching during the session because of the electrical pulses.
Because no anesthesia or sedation is necessary for a TMS session, so you are free to resume your regular activities immediately following your TMS treatment.
How Long Does a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Session Last?
TMS is a relatively quick process. You can expect to be in and out of your psychiatrist’s office in 30 minutes or less. Some of that time involves the set-up of the equipment, with the therapy itself taking about 5-20 minutes.
A full course of transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment typically involves five sessions per week for 6 weeks.
Are There Any Side Effects of TMS Treatment?
For the vast majority of patients, TMS treatment is well-tolerated. When side effects do occur, they may include headaches, facial twitching, lightheadedness, and head discomfort during treatment. Some people choose to take an over-the-counter headache medicine prior to treatment if they are prone to getting headaches.
What Is a Typical TMS Session Like?
You will sit comfortably in a cushioned, chaise-like chair with a headrest. Your provider will position the TMS instrument over your head and program in your ideal stimulation threshold. If you feel uncomfortable or cold, let the technician know.
How Long Will It Be Before I Notice the Results?
It can take a few weeks after transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment before the results settle in. The purpose is to encourage positive neurological activity, and this takes some time to develop. Setting intentions, doing workbooks with your team, and seeing your provider regularly throughout the process will help you understand how the treatment is affecting you.
What Area of the Brain Is Targeted with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
TMS targets the prefrontal cortex of the brain – the area associated with mood regulation. Specifically, it is the left dorsolateral area of the prefrontal cortex.
Does TMS Really Work?
TMS has been used successfully for treatment-resistant depression and other disorders for more than 20 years. TMS is approved by the FDA as a safe and effective treatment for depression that is resistant to medication. Many patients have reported long-term relief with TMS.
Eighty-plus percent of people have relief from a major symptom by the end of the 6-week treatment and greater than 60% of people have a remission of symptoms.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Denver and Lakewood, CO
At Denver Wellness Associates, our psychiatry team uses TMS to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. We can conduct an evaluation of your situation and determine the treatment that might work best in your case.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more about TMS, contact Denver Wellness Associates today by calling or texting us at (720) 724-3668 or by using our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you!