Looking for information on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)? Read on to learn about this alternative therapy for depression. Finding an effective treatment for depression is often challenging. Sometimes, medication or psychotherapy is not enough to address depression symptoms. When antidepressants are not effective, TMS therapy, a non-drug treatment, may be a viable option.Antidepressants function by…
TMS Treatment May Require Repeated Visits
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) involves using magnetic fields to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain and increase activity. The Food and Drug Administration has approved TMS as a treatment for depression. It can also be used to treat mental health disorders like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The treatment is also known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) because it involves sending multiple pulses of magnetic energy into the patient’s brain. Psychiatrists usually recommend this approach when therapy and medication have failed to produce the desired improvements to the patient’s symptoms. The treatment can require up to five visits per week for as long as six weeks for significant improvements. It is not something that patients can get once and immediately expect noticeable results.
What to expect when getting TMS
TMS is performed using an electromagnetic coil that is placed on the patient’s forehead. The electromagnet is used to deliver magnetic pulses that promote brain activity in areas with low activity. The target of the treatment is the patient’s prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that regulates mood. Reduced activity in this area has been linked to depression and other mental health disorders.
TMS therapy is often not the first course of action when treating mental health issues. Psychotherapy and medication are often enough to resolve most cases. TMS is typically used as an alternative treatment when therapy and antidepressants fail.
It is a non-invasive procedure that does not involve the use of any anesthetics. Most patients do not report significant side effects after the treatment, besides scalp discomfort, tingling, or headaches. In rare cases, it can lead to side effects like seizures.
TMS is often performed at a psychiatrist’s clinic, and it requires getting a series of treatments to be effective. Patients can expect to get about five sessions per week during their treatment.
The first session takes longer than subsequent sessions because the psychiatrist has to measure the patient’s head and locate the best area to place the magnetic coil. The psychiatrist will also determine the patient’s motor threshold by increasing the energy delivered into the patient’s head until it forces their finger to twitch. This is done to determine how much energy will be delivered during the treatment. Here is what the rest of the treatment looks like:
- The patient sits on a reclining chair in the treatment room.
- They are given earplugs to protect their ears from the loud clicking sounds made by magnetic pulses.
- An electromagnetic coil is placed on their head and switched on and off repeatedly.
- They might feel a light tapping sensation on their head while this occurs.
- The procedure goes on for about 40 minutes while the patient is awake.
- The patient is free to operate a vehicle and return to their regular routine afterward.
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Try an alternative approach
TMS can provide the relief that you need from issues like depression if therapy and medication have failed. Call or visit our Massapequa clinic to schedule a consultation with our psychiatrist.
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