Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a highly recommended depression treatment that can succeed when antidepressants have failed. According to research conducted by Harvard University, about 66% of people who have depression do not get significant relief from taking antidepressants.Such patients can benefit from an alternative depression treatment like transcranial magnetic stimulation. About 50 percent of…
What to Expect During a Psychiatric Evaluation For TMS
A psychiatric evaluation for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) goes a long way to increase the chances of a good overall outcome when it comes to treating depression and behavioral disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder. Patients of different age brackets, genders, and health statuses are potential candidates for the therapy. This makes patient screening the tool that ensures good results for patients across different demographic groups.
Psychiatric evaluation for TMS: Who performs patient screening?
Psychiatric evaluation is just one aspect of patient screening for TMS. A candidate for the therapy must also be physically capable of withstanding exposure to magnetic pulses. Here is what a patient should expect from the screening process, in a nutshell:
- A patient that shows little progress after an extended treatment period will get a recommendation for TMS therapy from their psychiatrist
- The psychiatrist will send their patient to a physician for screening. The aim here is to find out if the patient meets any of the exclusion criteria that make it risky for them to undergo TMS
- Lastly, a neuropsychiatrist will perform medical imaging of the patient’s brain to pinpoint the areas to target with magnetic pulses. They may also perform their in-depth psychiatric exam to confirm major, treatment-resistant depression
It is possible for a psychiatrist who treats the patient regularly to be the same doctor that administers the TMS therapy. In such cases the doctor will streamline psychiatric evaluation, resulting in fewer steps for the patient. Here is what the patient should expect from this process:
1. Continuous observation by the patient’s psychiatrist
This takes place over the course of treatment for major depression. Patients that suffer from moderate to severe depression may take medication, along with other forms of treatment. Being doctors, psychiatrists are some of the few mental health practitioners that can prescribe and administer medication like antidepressants.
Psychiatrists often treat major depression with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Over several months, the psychiatrist will monitor the patient’s progress. They will determine whether the patient’s depression lessens with treatment. The doctor may make adjustments to the treatment regimen if their patient shows little improvement.
If the patient’s depression resists treatment, the psychiatrist might recommend TMS as a course of treatment. The psychiatrist with the training to perform TMS will perform the next stage of evaluation themselves. If they don’t, they will refer their patient to a practice that administers TMS treatment.
2. Psychiatric evaluation in preparation for TMS therapy
The patient who gets a referral will go through the following steps:
1. Preliminary screening
A mental health professional will conduct a short talk with the patient, either in person or over the phone. The point of this talk is to get a sense of the patient’s mental status, in the patient’s own words. The psychologist or psychiatrist will ask the patient a series of questions that touch on medical and psychiatric history. This includes the patient’s experiences throughout treatment.
2. Collection of basic information
A medical practice that carries out TMS therapy will ask potential patients for more information. They will ask for:
- A list of the patient’s doctors and psychiatrists, both current and previous, along with their contacts
- Consent to allow for access to psychiatric and medical records
- Patient questionnaires that allow the psychiatrist to gauge patient insight into their mood disorder and/or depression severity
The type of questionnaires the patient fills out depends on their age and information from preliminary screening. As an example, teenagers fill different forms compared to adults.
3. Records review
Patient consent allows the specialist that performs TMS therapy to request information from the patient’s physician, psychiatrist, and/or therapist. The speed of the review process depends on how fast the patient’s healthcare providers respond to requests.
Records allow the neuropsychiatrist to gauge the effect of treatment on the patient’s mental health, over an extended period. Once the psychiatrist has a full picture of the patient’s medical history, they schedule a consultation.
4. First consultation
During this one-on-one meeting, the neuropsychiatrist will explain TMS therapy to the patient. They will answer any questions the patient may have and confirm the patient’s diagnosis. More likely than not, the doctor will incorporate the next stage into the evaluation.
5. Brain mapping
The neuropsychiatrist will perform medical imaging of the patient’s brain to map out brain activity. They will measure the level of activity in the area of the brain responsible for mood. The information from this stage of psychiatric evaluation allows the doctor to select target areas for neurostimulation.
Find out if TMS is the solution that finally works for you
Our practice offers psychiatric evaluation for TMS before they recommend the treatment. The evaluation can be helpful in your search for relief from long-term, treatment-resistant mental health issues. Get in touch with us or have your psychiatrist reach us. Together we will start you on your journey to wellness.
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