People living with chronic mental health problems like depression or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) need safe and noninvasive ways to manage their symptoms. Some find relief with counseling alone, or benefit from pharmacological options and medication management.
However, for others, psychotherapy and medication don’t end up being enough. You could also need to avoid pharmacological treatment due to unwanted side effects or other health concerns. If therapy and medication haven’t done enough to resolve your symptoms of OCD or depression, you may be able to benefit from Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy.
Here’s what Dr. Ronald P. Winfield and his team at Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates want new and existing patients in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, to understand about TMS therapy, and what you can expect during a typical treatment session.
How TMS works
TMS therapy is an effective nonpharmacological treatment option for many people suffering from mental health conditions including depression and OCD. TMS has been FDA-approved for more than a decade as a treatment for major depressive disorder.
With TMS therapy, you can find lasting relief from intrusive and difficult mental health symptoms. The short, repeated pulses of magnetic energy used in TMS stimulate your brain, activating your neurons and accelerating the release of neurotransmitters.
Over time, higher levels of neurotransmission of chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine can stabilize your mood and reduce your mental health symptoms.
TMS therapy is safe and noninvasive. The magnetic energy pulses used in this form of treatment are weaker than the magnetic pulses used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. You’ll need to abstain from consuming alcohol, and stop taking certain medications, like Wellbutrin (bupropion), for the duration of your TMS treatment, in order to lessen your risk of seizures.
What to expect during your TMS treatment
TMS treatment at Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates uses a handheld CloudTMS™ device. The stimulating coils in the device send magnetic pulses through your skull to engage the areas where mood regulation takes place.
The stimulating coil is positioned on your head by an experienced technician, who can ensure your comfort and the proper placement of the coil. For most patients, all you’ll feel is a slight pulsing sensation localized around the resting place of the stimulator coil.
If you’re one of the small group who initially experience mild to moderate discomfort during your first treatment sessions, let your provider know, and your TMS pulse intensity can be lowered.
A typical TMS session takes about 20-30 minutes. TMS treatment is done on an outpatient basis. You won’t need any sedation or anesthesia as part of your treatment session, as TMS treatment is completely painless. Side effects of TMS are minimal to nonexistent.
Effective treatment for OCD
A majority of TMS patients experience improved energy levels and mood, and a reduction of mental health symptoms, after just a few treatment sessions.
A complete course of TMS therapy includes 36 total treatment sessions, spaced out over the course of about 12 weeks. Your appointments are more frequent in the first part of the treatment process, tapering off to one-weekly maintenance sessions.
TMS has been shown to be effective for long-term relief from depression, and other applications for this therapy are currently being explored. At Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates, we may recommend TMS therapy for patients with depression, OCD, and certain other mental health conditions.
The benefits of TMS therapy can last for years, and you can maintain your results with additional therapy sessions, if needed.
To learn more about how TMS treatment could benefit you or a loved one, talk to the mental health experts at Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates. You can schedule your consultation appointment over the phone, or book online today.