What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe, noninvasive FDA-approved therapy available for addressing therapy-resistant depression. TMS uses electromagnetic waves to stimulate certain areas of the patient’s brain. This stimulation makes it possible for the brain to rebuild itself so the patient feels fewer symptoms. An outpatient procedure that requires no hospitalization or anesthesia, TMS can be safely combined with any other medication or psychotherapy.

TMS is currently FDA-approved for treating depression and obsessive compulsive disorder patients who have stopped responding to other therapy. Clinical studies are underway to study its use to treat other conditions such as bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. TMS therapy is safe for both children and adults.

Am I a good candidate for TMS?

You may be a good candidate for TMS if you have used one or more antidepressants without results; have experienced negative side effects and cannot tolerate antidepressants; or are a child or teenager. TMS is a good choice for those who are young as they are more likely to develop adverse side effects from antidepressants. Patients who have metal in their head, have a history of epilepsy or seizures, are taking stimulants, or have a medical condition that increases the risk of seizures should avoid TMS.

What are the chances of TMS working for me?

In real-life clinical settings, TMS has been proven to be effective for 3 out of 4 depression patients, with 1 in 2 patients achieving complete remission rate. More research is needed to understand the success rate for other medical conditions.

What are the benefits of TMS?

TMS has been shown to reduce systems for a number of conditions including treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, stroke rehabilitation, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain, nicotine addiction, and multiple sclerosis. This is accomplished by increasing or reducing brain activity through TMS for the brain centers responsible for these different conditions.

What is it like undergoing TMS?

During TMS therapy, patients undergo:

  • Brain mapping: during your first visit, you will undergo brain mapping, an important initial step to find the therapy location. Depending on the machine used, the technician will use coils and place them on different parts of your head to observe the twitches in your hand and locate where your brain has the strongest response. Additionally, the technician will need to determine your motor threshold (MT) to know how much power we can administer during therapy.
  • Coil placement: these are placed at the front of your head to start.
  • Therapy: with the coils in position, the technician will start administering stimulating magnetic pulses, going from reduced power to higher power. This gradual increase is needed to help you build up tolerance and to reduce the chance of developing tension headaches. The pulses will result in a tapping or clicking sound, and you will also feel a tapping sensation on your forehead.
How will the office monitor my progress with TMS?
The practice uses the Osmind app to monitor progress and communicate with its TMS patients. This app allows for mood tracking so you can visualize your improvement. The doctor will get alerted if there is any regression.
How much does TMS cost?
One course of TMS treatment can cost between $6,000-12,000 out of pocket. Health insurance providers may offer coverage but this depends on medical history.
What are the side effects of TMS?
Side effects with TMS are mild, and patients are able to treat these with over the counter medication. The most common side effects include temporary headaches and application site pain or discomfort, which generally dissipate after a few minutes. There is also a very rare risk of seizure associated with the treatment. Patients with metal in or around the head, such as in metal plates, implants and stents, should not undergo TMS treatment. 
What are the different types of TMS?

Generation Health uses an accelerated protocol of TMS (aTMS) which delivers a similar number of therapy sessions in a much shorter time frame. This involves getting more than one TMS session a day, shortening the typical duration of therapy from 6 weeks to 5 days.

Under the normal protocol, patients undergo 30-60 minute sessions five days a week for for four to six weeks. This can vary depending on the patient’s individual response. 

To read the latest research about TMS, visit our research page.

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