What is TMS therapy?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an innovative non-pharmacological treatment for patients who suffer from depression, who have not received satisfactory benefit from psychotherapy and anti-depressant treatment alone. It is also an excellent alternative for those who are unable to tolerate anti-depressant medication due to health issues and medication side effects. TMS is a safe and effective non-invasive and non-systemic treatment for Major Depressive Disorder that has been FDA-approved since 2008. Research studies have shown that TMS therapy provides excellent long-term benefit for depression relief.
Benefits of TMS:
- A safe, noninvasive & nonsystemic treatment option
- Available in an outpatient setting
- No sedation or anesthesia required
- Minimal to no side effects
- FDA-approved for depression
- Outcome studies show TMS provides long-lasting relief and/or remission from depression symptoms
Studies for off-label TMS use are currently in the research and development process. In the future we expect to see TMS treatment FDA-cleared for a variety of mental health diagnoses.
Is TMS a safe procedure?
TMS is an extremely safe, painless treatment with minimal to no side effects. It is well tolerated by the vast majority of patients, who report feeling only a mild pulsing sensation underlying the area where the stimulator coil rests. Some patients initially report mild to moderate discomfort during their first few sessions, however this is known to improve as treatment continues. Headache and scalp discomfort are the most commonly reported side effects. If necessary, the strength of TMS pulses can be lowered to safeguard the comfort of the patient.
In clinical studies, there have been rare reports of seizures in patients under the use of Wellbutrin and/or alcohol use. Patients are asked to abstain from alcohol during the course of TMS therapy and are discontinued from Wellbutrin prior to treatment to reduce such risks. Maniac symptoms during TMS treatment have also been noted to occur on rare occurrences.
How is TMS treatment performed?
At Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates, we use the most current technological device from CloudTMS, to provide our patients with top of the line TMS care. A hand-held device, known as a stimulating coil is placed upon the patient’s head after measurements are taken by the technician to ensure proper placement. TMS works by sending brief, repetitive magnetic pulses through the skull into the brain to stimulate the region that is responsible for mood regulation. The magnetic pulses are weaker than those used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The magnetic pulses stimulate the neurons in the brain, causing electrical currents that activate the neurons and increase the release of neurotransmitters. Over time, TMS treatment changes neuronal activity in the brain through increased neurotransmission of chemicals, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, leading to decreased depression.
Treatment is conducted in our outpatient office over the course of 12 weeks, for a total of 36 sessions. Each treatment session lasts approximately 20-30 minutes. The first 6 weeks of TMS therapy consist of 5 treatment sessions per week, followed by 1 weekly maintenance therapy session for the next 6 weeks thereafter. TMS is noninvasive and nonsystemic, with minimal to no side effects. Patients can drive themselves to and from each appointment and can carry on as usual with their normal daily activity after completion of each treatment session.
What outcomes should I expect from TMS treatment?
TMS therapy is transformative and revitalizing. Approximately 70% of patients who have undergone TMS treatment report relief in their depression symptoms, with 50% of those patients reporting to be in full remission from depression symptoms after treatment completion. Increased energy, improved concentration, and renewed motivation to participate in activities are reported by the majority of patients after just a few treatment sessions. The effects of TMS are not only noted by the patients themselves, but are also observed by family, friends, and the individuals surrounding them. MRI imaging studies show that repetitive stimulation to a specific area of the brain increases blood flow and over the course of time, also increases the density of gray matter.
How long do the effects of TMS therapy last?
The majority of patients report that the benefits of TMS last for a year, if not for several years after undergoing treatment. Maintenance TMS therapy sessions may be performed in the future, if necessary .
Is TMS covered by insurance?
TMS coverage is available by most health insurance plans. Most insurances require that patients have failed to receive benefit from several rounds of antidepressant medication within their current depressive episode to meet eligibility requirements for TMS approval. Please contact Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates or your health insurance provider to find out if coverage is available for you!
What happens in the initial appointment?
You will sign our TMS consent form along with a few other forms to complete. Then you will meet with Dr. Winfield in his office to go over the procedure once more and answer any other questions you may have.
Next you will be seated in a comfortable recliner next to the machine. Each patient gets their own personal white cap and optional earplugs (if the noise generated by machine is bothersome). Dr. Winfield will then take measurements to know exactly where to place the coil, as well as to find your motor threshold.
What happens if I need to miss a session or unable to make it on a particular day?
If you are unable to make it into the office for your appointment, just give us a call and let a receptionist know. Treatment can still be effective even if you have to miss a few days throughout your course of TMS.
For more information about CloudTMS, Visit https://cloudneuro.com/tms