What is TMS?
An alternative treatment for depression that doesn’t respond to meds.
Guest Columnist Published: September 14, 2020
Just as new treatment approaches are developed each year for physical ailments and chronic conditions, the medications and technology used to treat mental illnesses keep advancing, too.
Traditionally, medications are the primary treatment for conditions like depression, anxiety and panic disorders, in conjunction with therapy in some cases. In cases of depression not effectively treated using traditional means, Baptist Behavioral Heath offers an alternative treatment approach: TMS.
But what exactly is TMS, and how do you know if it’s right for you?
What is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive, safe and effective medical procedure that works by delivering highly focused, MRI-strength magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain. It’s FDA-approved to treat depression. A TMS treatment session is conducted using a small handheld device called a treatment coil that delivers energy to the brain using pulsed magnetic fields similar to those used in MRI machines.
Who is TMS treatment for?
The best way to determine if TMS is right for you is by speaking with your doctor, psychiatrist, or a qualified mental health care professional. We screen each patient to ensure that TMS is administered only when it’s medically advisable. It is most appropriate for patients who are currently diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression by their provider, and who have no implanted metal from past surgeries or injuries. We will determine this together before ever beginning treatment.
Why would I want TMS treatment?
TMS does not involve medications or surgery, and it’s done in an outpatient setting with no interruption to your daily life, no anesthesia needed, and few or no side effects at all. Most importantly, in an open-label trial, 67% of patients saw significant improvement in their depression symptoms, and 45% were considered in remission. Also, most major insurance carriers now cover TMS treatments.
How long does treatment last?
For most patients, the initial phase of treatment involves around 30 treatment sessions over a four- to six-week period. We usually do these as 20-minute treatment sessions each day, Monday through Friday.
After this phase, treatment becomes more about maintenance. Maintenance treatments may be required in the future, depending upon individual needs. The patient can schedule those at any time if needed.