What is TMS Therapy?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a cutting-edge and highly effective form of brain stimulation therapy that is FDA-approved for treating major depressive disorder (MDD). TMS is also FDA-approved for treating other conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and anxiety.
During TMS treatment, magnetic pulses are passed through the nerve cells in the area of the brain that controls mood. This helps balance out communication in the brain and improves symptoms of depression.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive procedure recommended as a treatment option for individuals who have not seen success with antidepressant medication or other options, such as talk therapy or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It is a non-invasive and non-pharmacologic alternative if you don’t respond to other depression treatment options.
How TMS Helps
When you undergo TMS treatment, an electromagnetic coil is placed near your forehead. It sends magnetic pulses to specific areas of your brain that are connected to your ability to control your mood.
When you suffer from a depressive disorder, you more than likely have reduced brain activity in your brain’s prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex impacts your ability to maintain attention, plan for the future, solve problems, and make decisions. TMS treatments activate the nerve cells in your prefrontal cortex to reduce depression symptoms.
A course of treatment involves between 30-36 sessions, delivered at a rate of five treatments a week for 4-6 weeks. This may seem like a significant time commitment, but TMS treatment delivers good results for most individuals, making the time commitment worth it.
Most TMS providers have a success rate of between 70% to 80%. That means those individuals find significant relief after completing a full course of treatment.
About 50% of people experience full remission after a single course of treatment, which is between 30-36 sessions.
How to Qualify for TMS Treatment
You don't need a special "TMS Psychiatrist" to get treatment at Axis Integrated Mental Health. All of our providers include TMS as part of their arsenal for combating depression and anxiety. If you are interested in TMS treatment, you only need to schedule an intake appointment with the team at Axis Integrated Mental Health.
During your intake appointment, we will thoroughly review your medical and mental health history. Then, we will provide a diagnosis and make treatment recommendations.
If we determine you are an appropriate candidate for TMS treatment, our administrative staff will send the appropriate documentation to your insurance company to get your treatment approved.
Once we have insurance approval for your treatment or you have set up a payment plan, we’ll get your treatment scheduled and started.
What to Expect During Your First TMS Treatment
Before treatment begins, you will be asked to remove any jewelry or metallic objects from your person since electromagnetic pulses are used during the process.
- Treatment is carried out in a private room, where you will be asked to sit in a reclining chair and given earplugs to wear during the procedure. The earplugs help to minimize the magnetic clicking sound of the device when it is in operation.
- The TMS technician will measure your head with a tape measure to identify where to place the magnetic coils.
- The magnetic coils are placed near your prefrontal cortex based on the measurements taken by the TMS technician.
- The treatment will begin. You may hear a clicking or tapping sound that lasts for a few seconds, followed by a pause. You will also feel a light tapping feeling on your scalp. This part of the process is called mapping.
- Your doctor will determine how much magnetic energy is needed by increasing the magnetic dose until your fingers or hands twitch. This point is referred to as your motor threshold, which helps determine the right magnetic dosage for you. The amount of magnetic dosage required may change over the course of your treatment depending on your symptoms and side effects.
A typical treatment session lasts between 20-30 minutes. Your first treatment session will last longer, though, as the process is explained to you and measurements are taken.
You will be seated throughout the treatment session. You will be awake the entire time as well. After your treatment session, you can drive and resume your daily activities.
You will be required to attend treatment sessions five days a week for four to six weeks. In some cases, we may recommend additional treatments for optimal results. We also recommend you undergo therapy with a licensed psychotherapist while undergoing TMS treatment.
If you are currently taking any medication, we recommend you continue with the treatment as prescribed.
After each treatment session, you can return to your regular routines. You can work, drive, and even work out.
Your depression symptoms may improve or go away completely if TMS treatment works for you. It may take a few weeks of treatment before you start to experience relief from your symptoms. The effectiveness of TMS continues to improve as researchers learn more about this technique.
After you complete the TMS treatment series, you may continue with standard care for depression, such as medication and psychotherapy. If your depression symptoms improve with TMS, and you later have another depressive episode, you can undergo another TMS treatment session - called re-induction.
Side Effects of TMS
After a TMS treatment, the majority of people can resume their normal daily activities without the need for any downtime.
Side effects of TMS are not common, but they can include:
- Scalp or neck pain
- Altered cognition during your treatment session
- Tingling sensation or facial twitching
- Mild headaches
A mild headache is the most common side effect people experience after a TMS session.
In rare cases, TMS may increase one’s risk of seizures and hearing loss.
Risk Factors for TMS
TMS is a safe treatment option for depression, but it is not suitable for everyone. You should avoid TMS treatments if you have any metal in your head. This includes:
- Permanent piercings
- Cochlear implants
- Facial tattoos with metallic ink
- Metal plates
- Aneurysm clips or coils
- Neck or brain stents
- Electrodes in the brain
- Deep brain stimulators
- Shrapnel or bullet pieces
Anything metallic on or inside of your body could result in complications due to the electromagnetic pulses used by the TMS machine.
Dental fillings and braces are considered safe for TMS. Please be sure to fully disclose your medical history, and talk to your doctor to ensure that TMS is safe for you.
If you have a history of seizures, other mental health disorders, a brain injury from illness or injury, or other medical conditions, be sure to disclose those to your doctor before starting TMS treatment.
Get TMS Treatment Today in Denver and Boulder County
If you suffer from treatment-resistant depression or major depressive disorder, TMS may be the right treatment option for you.
Contact Axis Integrative Mental Health at (720) 400-7025 or fill out our contact us form to learn if TMS treatment is right for you!
FAQs about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS is a medication-free treatment that can help 70% of people suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) find relief.
Does TMS require medication?
TMS is a non-medication treatment method for depression. It uses magnetic pulses to help your brain heal from the damage caused by major depressive disorder.
How quickly will I start to feel relief?
Most patients start to feel relief within 2-3 weeks of starting treatment, but results may vary.
No, TMS is a painless procedure. It is best described as the feeling of a tapping finger on a small area of your head.
Does TMS have any side effects?
You may feel a slight headache or tingling sensation on the scalp, which should go away quickly after your treatment session. There are no long-term side effects that have been identified for TMS treatment. TMS treatment has been used for over 15 years to treat depression.
TMS has been around as a treatment for over 30 years and has been used to treat depression for 15 years. Over this time, no long-term adverse effects have been associated with TMS treatment.
Do I need someone to drive me home after TMS treatment?
No, you do not need anyone else to drive you home after TMS treatment. You can safely drive, return to work, and resume your regularly scheduled activities after TMS treatment. It doesn’t affect your concentration or focus.
How long does the treatment last?
With TMS, you will receive treatment 5 days a week for 4 to 6 weeks. It is recommended to have between 30-36 treatments. Each individual session only lasts about 20-30 minutes.
How long does each treatment session take?
Each treatment session only takes about 20 to 30 minutes in total.
What is the success rate for TMS?
Most TMS providers find that the success rate of TMS for their patients is between 70%-80%. This means those patients find significant relief after treatment.
Around 50% of patients experience complete remission after one full course of treatment, which means they feel significantly better.
What advantages does TMS treatment have over other depression treatments?
With TMS treatment, you can drive yourself to and from your appointments and involves no downtime. Other depression treatment options, such as Ketamine infusions, require that you be discharged to another responsible adult after treatment.
TMS treatment is also generally covered by insurance, so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for treatment.
Is TMS covered by insurance?
If you have tried between two to four different antidepressant drugs without any success, most insurance carriers cover TMS for treatment-resistant depression.
Our office staff at Axis Integrated Mental Health will submit the necessary paperwork to your insurance provider to obtain pre-approval for your TMS treatment.
If your insurance provider doesn’t cover TMS treatment, we offer a reasonable cash pay rate to ensure anyone who needs TMS treatment can access it. Payment plans and financing are available.
Who should avoid TMS treatment?
You should avoid TMS treatment if you have magnetic metal plates or devices implanted in or around your head, excluding standard amalgam dental fillings. If you have any metal fragments in your head that respond to magnets, you should avoid TMS treatment.
How do I know if TMS is the right treatment for me?
If you want to know if TMS is right for you, you can schedule an appointment with Axis Integrated Mental Health. We have both psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists on staff who can evaluate you and determine if TMS treatment is the right choice for your situation.
How much does TMS Therapy cost?
TMS therapy costs $300/session with an average cost between $6,000-$15,000. Please read our article about TMS Therapy Costs for more information.
Can TMS help teenage depression?
Absolutely! We provide off-label TMS services for teenagers to treat common conditions like ADHD, depression, anxiety and OCD. Read our blog for more information about using TMS for teenage depression. Please note that off-label TMS, while safe and effective, is not covered by insurance.
Does Medicaid cover TMS in Colorado
Unfortunately, despite the fact that 16 other state Medicaid programs cover TMS, Colorado does not. You can read more about our advocacy for Medicaid patients in our blog Medicaid coverage for TMS. However, we do not want to turn away Medicaid patients seeking this treatment, so we have established a pro bono program for eligible Medicaid patients to receive this treatment.
Can TMS Therapy help OCD?
YES! TMS therapy for OCD is highly effective. Please read our blog to learn more about how effective TMS therapy is for this condition.