10 FAQs ABOUT TMS Treatment That Will Surprise You

Keegan Warrington
March 7, 2022

Treatment of mental health problems has been advancing over the years with the help of technology. For instance, before it was impossible to understand certain aspects of the human brain’s activity, but now neuroimaging technology provides a non-invasive way to take images of the brain.

This way, neurologists, psychiatrists, and related health professionals can compare images taken at different times to find answers to various psychological problems

One popular technological product that has advanced mental health treatments is TMS.

What does TMS mean? It’s simply an acronym that stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. It is an evolving treatment for patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety. However, more study is required to determine the true effectiveness of TMS in treating depression.

Curious about TMS treatments and their possible benefits? Let’s answer the top frequently asked questions about TMS.

FAQ 1: What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a brain stimulation therapy that uses magnetic waves to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain. Nerves transmit neurotransmitters, the body’s chemical messengers. Neurotransmitters carry instructions such as muscle movements or the release of hormones.

Stress caused by depression causes nerve connections to break. Broken nerve connections are believed to cause unstable emotions and low brain activity. Through TMS, the electromagnetic waves stimulate these nerve connections to increase brain activity, and therefore reduce the symptoms of depression.

FAQ 2: Is Hospitalization Necessary for TMS?

TMS treatment is a non-invasive and outpatient procedure. Hospitalization and even anesthesia are not a requirement for patients qualified for TMS. During the TMS procedure, the patient will be fully awake, so you don’t need to worry about sedation during the procedure. After the procedure, there is no recovery time, and you can continue doing other things.

FAQ 3: How Long is TMS Therapy?

The duration of TMS varies from patient to patient. There is no standard duration. However, each procedure often lasts for 30 to 40 minutes. The frequency of treatment is usually five days a week and can last for four to six weeks. It can last longer than six weeks, depending on the patient’s response to the treatment. If you’re working and are planning to enroll in TMS treatment, you’ll need to make arrangements with your employer.

FAQ 4: How Does TMS Work?

TMS is not surgery. It is a relatively simple procedure, and it won’t require blood tests before the procedure. The technician will ask you to remove jewelry or items around the head that might respond to magnets (e.g., hearing aid).

If this is your first time, the technician may explain the procedure and measure your head to adjust the apparatus. The technician will also determine the patient’s motor threshold by deploying brief pulses at different levels. The minimum impulse required is the amount of power to twitch the patient’s thumb.

During the treatment, the technician positions the magnetic coil over the patient’s scalp. You will hear a clicking sound coupled with a tapping sensation caused by the coil to release magnetic impulses. Earplugs will also be available to minimize the noise coming from the apparatus.

Though each treatment would last from 30 to 40 minutes, the magnetic stimulation therapy only lasts for 30 seconds to one minute at max.

There will be breaks in between stimulation procedures and you can expect the technician to change the position of the coil during treatment. For succeeding treatments, the technician will no longer assess the motor threshold unless necessary.

FAQ 5: Who are Ideal Candidates for TMS?

Patients diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression are the primary candidates for TMS procedures. A patient has treatment-resistant depression if the psychiatrist sees no improvement after undergoing psychotherapy and taking depression medications. Qualifying for TMS is the choice of the patient. However, only a mental health practitioner can prescribe the TMS treatment to patients.

However, even if you qualify for TMS, other factors like previous head injuries, seizures and brain damage history, and metal implants will disqualify you from the treatment. Examples of metal implants near the head are the following:

  • Brain stents
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Facial tattoos using metallic ink
  • Cochlear implants
  • Permanent piercings
  • Electrodes
  • Brain stimulators

FAQ 6: Does TMS Hurt?

TMS is non-invasive, so there is theoretically no pain for the patient. According to a study, TMS is a relatively safe procedure. However, researchers pointed out that discomfort almost always exists in every treatment today. Though discomfort is not necessarily painful, the possibility of feeling side effects in TMS is not remote.

FAQ 7: What are the Side Effects of TMS?

Patients receiving different frequencies of TMS report different side effects. Mild headaches are the common side effects during or after treatment. In the same study of pain during TMS in young patients, higher frequencies often produce more discomfort than lower frequencies of TMS. Scalp discomfort and arm pain are other common side effects after TMS. However, the possibility of serious side effects like seizures and hearing loss is rare.

FAQ 8: Who Administers TMS?

A TMS technician or physician administers the procedure. However, there are specific techniques used in TMS to target certain portions of the brain. Overall, the treatment is a collaboration between your psychiatrist and technician. These two experts will determine where to position the apparatus to target specific brain sections that need stimulation.

FAQ 9: Does Insurance cover TMS Treatment?

Yes, but consult with your insurance provider first. Since TMS is an evolving treatment, your insurance provider might ask for additional requirements.

FAQ 10: How Does TMS Help Patients with Depression and Anxiety?

Patient feedback suggests that TMS improves the symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, observations and feedback from doctors and patients report mixed results as to TMS’ effectiveness.

This is largely because TMS is still relatively new as a mental health treatment, and therefore has not had enough patients undergo it. This means there aren’t enough people who have experienced it enough that we can use it to establish a benchmark.

Come See How We Use TMS To Treat Depression And Anxiety At Roots TMS

TMS for depression is a new frontier for the treatment of major depression. Though TMS does not guarantee recovery, the medical community is still on the verge of discovering the full potential of TMS in depression and other mental health disorders like schizophrenia and PTSD.

At Roots TMS, we can explain how TMS works. If this is your first time, we will assign a mental health expert to assist you in getting more appropriate treatment. Aside from TMS, we offer psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychiatry.

Take the next step with Roots TMS today. Contact us at (562) 203 0567 or fill out our contact form to get started.

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Keegan Warrington