TMS FAQ

What is TMS?

TMS is a safe, effective, non-invasive treatment for persistent depression that was FDA-approved in 2008.

 

How does it work?

TMS sends magnetic pulses that stimulate neurons in the area of the brain responsible for mood.

 

Does it help people with treatment-resistant depression?

Yes, TMS is especially helpful for people with treatment-resistant depression because it can positively affect the brain even when antidepressants failed.

 

What are the signs of depression?

The signs of depression include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt, a decrease in energy, a change in sleeping and/or eating habits, a lack of interest in activities, irritability, and thoughts of suicide.

 

Is TMS used to treat anything besides depression?

Yes, TMS is used for a variety of diseases and disorders, especially in countries outside the United States where it has already been approved for more than just depression. Its uses include, but are not limited to, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, schizophrenia, PTSD, substance abuse, addiction, tinnitus, multiple sclerosis, ALS, motor disability after stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

 

Who responds best to TMS treatment?

Interestingly enough, TMS seems to be equally effective across the board. That includes such factors as age, gender, length of depression, intensity of depression, and response to antidepressants.

 

Does TMS cause any discomfort or side effects?

Some people report a slight headache, toothache, or temporary discomfort at the treatment site.

 

Does TMS cause any loss of memory?

No, there has not been any memory loss reported to date with TMS. Memory loss typically occurs with Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) while TMS works in a safer, far less invasive manner.

 

How long does treatment take?

Treatment lasts from 20-40 minutes, 5 days a week for 4-6 weeks.

 

What happens during treatment?

You sit in a comfortable chair, the TMS machine is put in place, and then magnetic impulses are delivered. The procedure is relatively painless, without noticeable effects, and you can drive home afterward.

 

How long will the positive effects of treatment last?

TMS treatment has a long-lasting effect. A few patients need maintenance treatment 3-4 months after the initial treatment regimen, others need some 6 months later, and some don’t need followup treatment at all.

 

What are the benefits of TMS over antidepressants?

The results of TMS last well beyond the actual treatment, which is localized. Antidepressants are ingested and effect the entire body, and side effects include weight gain, decrease in libido, dizziness, nausea, and constipation. Also, TMS can be effective when depression has previously been resistant to medication.

 

What are the benefits of TMS over Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?

While both treatments are helpful with depression, ECT is invasive. It requires anesthesia, the placement of electrodes, and a strong electrical current. It also results in memory loss. TMS is an in-office procedure that uses magnetic impulses and does not cause loss of memory.

 

How is TMS different from regular magnets used as alternative medicine?

Several years ago, it became popular to use so-called “therapeutic magnets” for pain relief and other health issues. The magnets are supposed to alter energy fields around the body. However, they are typical magnets integrated into bracelets, rings, shoes and even mattresses without enough strength to reach beneath the skin.

 

Can I have TMS treatment if I’m currently taking antidepressants?

Yes, during TMS treatment, the continuation of an established antidepressant regimen is encouraged. After TMS treatment and depression has been abated, antidepressants are often reduced or even eliminated.

 

Who should not have TMS treatment?

Those who have metal that cannot be removed from the head or surrounding areas should not have TMS treatment. The metal can limit the effectiveness of the magnetic pulses and even result in injury. Exceptions include dental fillings, crowns, and/or braces.

 

Will my insurance cover the treatment?

As TMS is becoming more established and its effectiveness better known, more and more insurance companies are covering treatment. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and MHN (HealthNet) are two major companies that typically provide coverage. Check with your local TMS office for assistance.

 

Where is TMS treatment available?

There are TMS centers across the United States and in other countries. Some of these include the following: