Weighing The Pros And Cons Of TMS Therapy

Keegan Warrington
April 18, 2022

Depression is a common mental illness that impacts millions of people each year. Although various treatment options are available for this condition, there are times when patients don’t respond well to primary approaches like antidepressants and psychotherapy.

When conventional treatments provide little to no relief to the individual, it would be best to try alternative routes. Recent advances such as TMS therapy may help improve your symptoms.

However, before setting up an appointment for this procedure, you must weigh its pros and cons. Let’s dig deeper and learn more about the said treatment in this article.

what's TMS therapy

What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS is a non-invasive technique often recommended to people with depression who haven’t found success in first-line treatments.

It uses magnetic waves to stimulate areas in the brain responsible for mood control. The process involves the delivery of repetitive magnetic pulses; thus, it’s also known as repetitive TMS or rTMS.

During your session, the technician will place an electromagnetic coil against your scalp near the forehead. It will induce an electric current, so you will likely feel a slight tapping sensation on your head.

The treatment lasts between 30 to 40 minutes and is given five times a week for four to six weeks. Experts believe that this brain stimulation therapy can increase dopaminergic activity and elevate one’s alertness and mood.

In addition to depression, TMS therapy is being researched to treat other mental health conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.

Now, let’s familiarize ourselves with some of the pros and cons of TMS therapy.

5 Pros of TMS

1. It is a Great Option For Treatment-Resistant Depression

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of TMS therapy for people with depression who don’t respond adequately to medications.

Though experts continue to examine its benefits, recent studies have shown a favorable TMS therapy success rate. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of individuals with treatment-resistant depression responded positively after trying this procedure. Most patients feel better for many months after they finish the treatment.

However, take note that these results are not guaranteed. Like other mood disorders, symptoms may recur in some patients, requiring them to return for subsequent maintenance sessions.

2. Minimal Side Effects

There are only a few adverse effects of TMS therapy. Most people report having mild headaches or site discomfort during the initial session. However, these typically go away throughout the treatment. Technicians can also adjust the coil positioning and stimulation settings to reduce pain.

3. It Has No Addictive Properties

Central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines and clonazepam could be habit-forming. On the other hand, TMS therapy has no properties to get you hooked on drugs. It also doesn’t trigger any discontinuation symptoms after finishing the treatment.

4. Easily Fits In Your Daily Routine

Patients don’t have to be sedated while undergoing this procedure. They can go on their regular schedule even after the treatment. You won’t have any problem driving yourself to and from the clinic.

Compared to electroconvulsive therapy, which requires anesthesia or ketamine that can distort the perception of sights and sounds, TMS allows you to resume your activities throughout the day.

5. Insurance Coverage

pros and cons of TMS therapy

Many insurance companies cover TMS therapy costs. They recognize it as a treatment for depression alongside medication and psychotherapy. Meanwhile, insurance doesn’t cover alternative approaches like ketamine infusions because of their off-label use.

Insurers may have strict criteria when it comes to TMS coverage policy. Most companies require you to try conventional treatments first before doing TMS.

It means you have to prove that antidepressants and psychotherapy aren’t working for you before they can approve your request.

It would be ideal to speak with your mental healthcare provider and insurance company to check your eligibility.

3 Cons of TMS

1. It May Not Suit All Situations

TMS is not advisable for people with certain conditions. Since it emits magnetic pulses, it is risky for people with metal implants on their heads or necks. The magnetic field cannot go through the metal, and it may cause the metal to increase its temperature.

Examples of metals that could prohibit you from trying this procedure include aneurysm clips, any medical implant containing metal, cochlear implants, metal stents, and bullet fragments.

Other factors that could disqualify you from TMS therapy are brain tumors and a history of seizures. You have to consult your physician and TMS provider regarding your case and let them decide if this would be appropriate for you.

2. Mild Scalp Discomfort

Some patients complain of scalp discomfort and muscle twitching during or after their session, but they usually subside as treatment progresses. Do not worry, though, as most people receiving TMS therapy say it is tolerable. In case headaches occur, you can minimize pain by taking paracetamol.

3. Availability

Behavioral health treatment in rural communities remains a challenge even in the United States. Because TMS is relatively new, you may have difficulty finding a treatment center near you.

Even though TMS clinics are becoming increasingly common in major cities, there is still a lack of access to this treatment in rural areas.

We Provide The Healing You Need

what is TMS therapy

What’s TMS therapy? It is a new treatment option that benefits people struggling with depression. It is non-invasive, and it doesn’t require anesthesia or sedation.

Using a magnetic coil device that generates electric pulses, TMS targets the part of your brain that regulates your emotions. It is an effective treatment with minimal side effects and doesn’t disrupt your everyday life.

Knowing about the TMS therapy benefits can help you understand how this procedure can effectively combat your depression.

Allow us to support your mental health needs. Roots TMS offers several treatment options – one of which is transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy.

We customize each treatment plan to ensure better outcomes for patients. To schedule an appointment with us, please feel free to call us at (562) 526-1791 or email us at info@rootstms.com.

Share this post
Keegan Warrington