Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy
What is TMS?
TMS is a non-medication therapy cleared by the FDA to help treat depression in patients who have not found relief with standard treatments. This non-invasive outpatient therapy has helped thousands of people with depression. TMS is also beginning to be used to successfully treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For more information on OCD treatment see this section below.
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, depression may be caused by an imbalance of these chemicals (also called neurotransmitters) in the brain. By restoring the balance of these chemicals, TMS may help relieve depression.
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 6 weeks, then taping 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 depression 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 treats depression, 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.
While individual results can vary, MindPath’s TMS treatment remission rates collectively are significantly higher than that of published studies.
58% of patients went into remission***
87% of patients had greater than 50% improvement in symptoms or fully remitted****
13% of patients had no response
*Between 1/4/2019 to 5/31/2020
** n = 104 total number of patients who completed the protocol for MDD
*** Based on standardized scales QIDS, PHQ9, or Ham-D. If the patient scores at or below the definition of mild in any of these scales, patient is determined to be in remission.
**** Patients are evaluated at the beginning, once per week and at the end of 36 treatments. Our remission statistics are tabulated from the end result after all treatments, although some patients go into remission well before the end of treatment.
Note: Clinical outcomes and expectations are different for each patient and, as a result, one patient’s response may not be indicative of another patient’s response.
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 depression 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, depression 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 depression 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
TMS therapy has also been FDA-approved for use with treating obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD. Currently, most insurance companies will not cover TMS treatment for OCD, though we anticipate that changing soon. However, MindPath Care Centers has been able to help a small number of patients get insurance approval for TMS treatment for OCD. If you are interested in learning more please contact us at 877-876-3783 to schedule a consultation to find out if you are a good candidate for TMS therapy for OCD.
TMS is safe whether or not you are also receiving oral antidepressant medications. Because depression involves several different factors, including environment and lifestyle, your therapist may recommend you receive talk therapy and other treatment approaches with TMS.
How can I get started with TMS?
Contact MindPath Care Centers at 877-876-3783 to schedule a consultation to find out if you are a good candidate for TMS therapy for depression.
Many major commercial and Medicare plans now cover TMS therapy for depression. 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.
If you or a loved one currently struggle with depression, there is help and hope.
At MindPath Care Centers, we believe that each person has a right to compassionate, thorough, personalized care. Since 1994, we have made your empowerment our priority, and are committed to providing the resources and knowledge you need to thrive.
Providing individual, patient-centered care not only benefits the individual, but strengthens our families and communities. MindPath Care Centers is committed to being an accessible, comfortable, safe place to receive mental health care from over 150 experienced, professional associates. This diverse network allows our experts to collaborate to provide the best care possible.
If you have struggled with depression and felt frustrated by ineffective treatments, there is still hope and help for you. Call now to be matched with a specialist near you. Take your first step to living to your full potential!
What our Patients Say
For anyone considering TMS treatment, I highly recommend Dr. V. and his TMS team at Carolina Partners. This group worked seamlessly to prepare, implement and follow-up up with me, making me feel like I was their number one priority at all times. I do not live in N.C., but travelled from my home in Vermont in order to work with Dr. V and his team, a few years ago for my initial treatment, and again this year for a booster. In the future, I will continue to return to Carolina Partners for my TMS booster sessions as this caring group of individuals, who happen to be experts in their field, have supported me through my illness and treatment then celebrated my successful outcome(s). For that, I am truly grateful!