Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy
What is TMS?
TMS is a non-medication therapy cleared by the FDA to help treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and smoking addition in patients who have not found relief with standard treatments. This non-invasive outpatient therapy has helped thousands of people who have not found relief in traditional treatments.
How does TMS work?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation uses short, magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the parts of the brain believed to be involved in regulating mood and emotions. The TMS system sends rapid pulses through a magnetic coil. These magnetic fields are the same type and strength as those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine used in hospitals.
The magnetic fields do not directly affect your whole brain; instead, they reach only about 2-3 centimeters into the brain, directly beneath the treatment coil. Moving into the brain, the magnetic pulses produce tiny electrical currents.
These electrical currents then activate brain cells that are thought to release serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. In many people, mental health conditions may be caused by an imbalance of these chemicals (also called neurotransmitters) in the brain. By restoring the balance of these chemicals, TMS Therapy may help relieve symptoms.
To undergo TMS therapy, you will first receive a health assessment to determine your specific needs. TMS therapy happens under supervision in a psychiatrist’s office. Most of these sessions will last about 30-45 minutes.
The therapist places an electromagnetic coil against your scalp, near your forehead. This helps the magnetic pulse reach the brain’s left prefrontal cortex, which is believed to be involved in complex cognitive behavior, personality, and decision making.
During a TMS session, you will sit in a comfortable chair and remain alert. Once the machine is operating, you may hear clicking sounds and feel tapping sensations on your forehead. After each session, you can return to work, driving, and other activities as normal.
You may start out with daily sessions for 3-6 weeks, then if needed, tapering session for 3 more weeks. After that, you may receive periodic maintenance sessions or other depression treatments, depending on what your provider determines.
If TMS works for you, you will see your symptoms improve or even go away completely. This may take a few weeks of treatment. As TMS technology continues to develop, its effectiveness may further improve in the future.
For a more in-depth explanation of how TMS therapy works, check out this Q&A video with Sandeep Vaishnavi, MD, PhD – TMS Director at MindPath Care Centers. Watch Video >
Upon arrival to your session, we will ask that you wait outside of the facility. You will be notified via text when we are ready to start your treatment. As you enter the facility, we will hold the doors open for you to avoid any contact with door handles.
No check-in is required. We will guide you directly to the TMS chair. Our technicians will set up the TMS treatment while wearing a mask and gloves. Once the treatment begins, a technician will remain in the room with you at a distance.
At the end of your session, check-out is not required. You may go directly to your vehicle. Equipment is then sanitized after every session. We also have hand sanitizer available to patients and staff.
Check out WDAM’s story on TMS Treatment with MindPath Care Centers’ TMS Director – Sandeep Vaishnavi, MD, PhD
What are the side effects of TMS?
One of the best parts of TMS is the minimal side effects. With TMS Therapy:
- You are awake and alert during treatment
- You don’t need anesthesia or sedation
- The treatment is “non-systemic,” meaning it does not involve medication taken by mouth, so nothing is circulating in your bloodstream
- You can resume your usual activities immediately
- Your memory or mental clarity is not affected
Like any other type of treatment, some side effects are possible. These may include:
- Discomfort where the coil is placed
- Tingling, spasms, or twitching of facial muscles
Most of these side effects are mild and go away shortly after each session. They should also diminish with each additional session. Sometimes, symptoms may feel worse before they start to improve. As with any medical treatment, let your provider know of any side effects.
Is TMS right for me?
TMS can be a helpful form of alternative therapy if you have not found any lasting or meaningful change to your quality of life from other treatments. Not only is TMS therapy easy and noninvasive, but more than 60 clinical trials have shown it to be effective.
TMS should not be used if you:
- Have any metal implants in or near your head
- Have any electronic devices in your head or body, such as a pacemaker
- Have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder
Researchers are not yet sure how TMS affects:
- Women who are pregnant and nursing
- Children and teens
- People with neurological disorders
- Individuals over age 68
How can I get started with TMS?
To see if TMS is right for you, please complete the form below to find our if you are a candidate. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 877-876-3783 and our intake team will be happy to help.
Many major commercial and Medicare plans now cover TMS therapy. MindPath Care Centers now accepts Medicare, BCBS, United Healthcare, Cigna, Aetna, and Tricare for TMS treatment. As with other medical treatments, contact your specific insurance provider to confirm whether TMS is covered for you.