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TMS is a groundbreaking depression treatment, is it right for you?

Is TMS the best depression treatment for your depression?

Are you tired of being depressed? Has medication not been helping?

If so, perhaps repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is the best treatment. This article will help you learn more about TMS and whether it may be able to provide relief for your symptoms.

What is TMS treatment?

TMS is a cutting edge, painless, and highly effective treatment. It’s especially useful when people do not feel better after trying different medications. TMS works by sending magnetic pulses to the brain, which stimulates nerve cells in the areas that control mood. TMS helps to balance out the communication in the brain and has been a lifesaver for people who have not been helped by antidepressant medications or other treatment options such as psychotherapy and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

How to get started

The first step in getting started is to have an intake appointment with a specialized psychiatric provider, like an MD Psychiatrist or the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners like the team at Axis Integrated Mental Health. In the intake visit, the provider will obtain your medical and mental health history, provide a diagnosis, and make a recommendation for treatment. If you are an appropriate candidate for TMS our administrative staff will communicate with your insurance company to find out if it is covered by your insurance.

Once we have approval or have made other arrangements, we’ll get you scheduled to start treatment.

What to expect during TMS Treatment

Before treatment begins, your doctor must identify the best place to put the magnets on your head and the best dose of magnetic energy for you. Your first appointment typically lasts about 30 minutes.

During your first appointment:

  • You’ll be taken to a treatment room, asked to sit in a reclining chair and given earplugs to wear during the procedure.
  • The provider will take some measurements of your head with a tape measure.
  • A small handheld electromagnetic coil will be placed against your head and switched off and on repeatedly to produce stimulating pulses. This results in a tapping or clicking sound that usually lasts for a few seconds, followed by a pause. You’ll also feel a light tapping sensation on your scalp.  This part of the process is called mapping.
  • Your doctor will determine the amount of magnetic energy needed by increasing the magnetic dose until your fingers or hands twitch. Known as your motor threshold, this is a reference point in determining the right dose for you. During treatment, the amount of stimulation can be changed depending on your symptoms and side effects.
  • We’ll then begin your first treatment, which can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Since TMS does not affect your ability to drive, you can drive yourself to and from these quick appointments.

TMS does not cause any side effects associated with medications or ECT; and is generally well tolerated, with few mild-to-moderate side effects that improve shortly after each session. Common side effects include headache, scalp tenderness, muscle spasms around the mouth during treatment, or lightheadedness. Your treatment team may adjust the stimulation level or recommend that you take over-the-counter pain medication to address mild side effects. Serious side effects are rare and include issues such as seizures and hearing loss.

A typical treatment session lasts around 20 to 30 minutes, except for the first appointment, which is longer. Treatment is delivered five days per week over four to six weeks, and is performed in an outpatient setting without general anesthesia or sedation. You will be able to resume normal activities after your treatment session.

It’s recommended to have 30-36 treatments. This generally involves five treatments a week for 4-6 weeks. In some cases, it may recommend having additional treatments for optimal results. Most TMS providers find that there is a success rate of between 70% and 80%, meaning that most individuals find significant relief after treatment. About 50% of people experience complete remission, meaning that they feel significantly better after just one course of treatment.

We also recommend that patients be undergoing therapy with a licensed psychotherapist during treatment. If you don’t have a therapist, we can help you find one.

It’s also important to stay on your medications as prescribed while undergoing treatment. You’ll meet with your psychiatry provider regularly during treatment to make sure everything is going as expected. Other recommendations during TMS treatment include, getting a good night’s rest before each treatment, not drinking excessive caffeine, not drinking excessive alcohol, and following all other recommendations your care team may have.

If you’re not feeling better despite treatment with antidepressants, or you’re looking for a natural option to address a mental health condition, schedule an appointment with Axis Integrated Mental Health at (720) 571-9588.

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