TMS Therapy

Overview

What is TMS therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is FDA-approved to treat depression. A machine uses highly focused magnetic pulses to stimulate brain cells and treat depression.  It is non-invasive, and there is no pain. This can be a great alternative for someone who has not responded to medications for treating depression.  Sessions are 20 minutes long, five days per week. 

We have partnered with Magstim and use their exclusive StimGuide® 3-D Positioning System.  This offers precise, reproducible treatments without the need for helmets or uncomfortable electrodes that other brands may use.   

Does TMS therapy work?

Yes, TMS works. Double-blinded, randomized, controlled trials showed that TMS works to improve depression symptoms.  It is not the right fit for everyone, but if you’re looking for a non-medication treatment option, contact Specialty Clinic, and we’ll discuss what is right for you.

How much does TMS therapy cost? If you’re struggling with depression, the last thing you need is to worry about finances.  At Specialty Clinic, we have a dedicated team that can work with your insurance company to get you the best rates possible for TMS treatments.  Most insurance companies cover TMS, call us, and we can let you know what your out-of-pocket cost will be. 

How long does TMS therapy take to work? Recovery from depression can be a slow process.  Studies show improvement at the 6-week mark, but patients can notice they are more active and engaging in life by three weeks.  Things may not be perfect, but you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

How many sessions of TMS therapy do you need on average? TMS sessions are 20 minutes long, five days per week.  This is done for a total of 6 weeks.  Studies show improvement at the 6-week mark, but patients can notice they are more active and engaging in life by three weeks.

TMS therapy success rate 

According to research by Neurostar, 60% of patients who try TMS therapy see an improvement. Although TMS is the latest in the list of treatments available for depression, it is not one size fits all and depends on each patient’s circumstances. 

Is TMS therapy safe?

Yes, TMS therapy is safe and effective.  Most people experience no major side effects. Occasionally, people can experience scalp discomfort or headaches.  

Is TMS therapy permanent?

No treatments for depression are permanent, but there is hope.  Think of depression as a chronic disease – one that can be managed, like high blood pressure or diabetes.  Once your symptoms are under control, you can enjoy your life again.  Sometimes patients use TMS as a way to get out of a depressive episode and then resume medication to maintain their well-being.  Everyone’s needs are different, so contact Specialty Clinic, and we can find an individualized treatment plan that can help you.  

Does TMS therapy cause side effects?

TMS is generally safe and is considered non-invasive.  You may experience scalp tenderness during the course of the treatments.  It is not dangerous, but if scalp tenderness occurs, talk to your doctor to see what can be done.

TMS Therapy Treatment Options

 TMS therapy for depression

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is FDA-approved to treat depression. A machine uses highly focused magnetic pulses to stimulate brain cells and treat depression.  It is non-invasive, and there is no pain. This can be a great alternative for someone who has not responded to medications for treating depression.  Sessions are 20 minutes long, five days per week.

TMS therapy for anxiety 

Anxiety is very common and affects us all to some degree.  Some symptoms include worrying too much about trivial things, panic attacks, or OCD behaviors.  TMS is not indicated to treat anxiety.

TMS therapy for autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects social learning and connectedness.  In recent years, there has been more awareness raised about the disorder, which has led to exciting research into treatment options.  TMS is not indicated for treating autism.

TMS therapy for migraines 

Migraines can be debilitating and affect children and adults alike.  Some migraines can have what’s called an aura, and others not.  Stress can be a trigger for migraines.  TMS is not indicated for treating migraines.

TMS therapy for Bipolar 

Bipolar disorder consists of two phases, mania, and depression.  TMS can be used to treat depressive phases (also called depressive episodes).  A machine uses highly focused magnetic pulses to stimulate brain cells and treat depression.  It is non-invasive, and there is no pain. This can be a great alternative for someone who has not responded to medications for treating depression.  Sessions are 20 minutes long, five days per week.

TMS therapy for Aspergers

Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects social learning and connectedness.  In recent years, there has been more awareness raised about the disorder, which has led to exciting research into treatment options.  TMS is not indicated for treating Asperger’s Syndrome.

TMS therapy for Tinnitus 

Tinnitus is a condition of the ear that causes a ringing sound which can be very stressful to some people. TMS is not indicated for treating migraines.

TMS therapy vs. ECT

ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, is used to treat conditions such as depression and has been in use for several decades.  It is more intense than TMS and requires the patient to go under general anesthesia while the treatments are administered. There can also be temporary memory loss for up to one year after ECT treatment is done.

TMS therapy vs. EMDR

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a specific type of therapy using a moving light to treat PTSD.  TMS is not indicated for treating PTSD.

References

(STAR*D) Study
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/clinical-research/practical/stard/allmedicationlevels.shtml


Information

Medically reviewed by:

Charles Sweet, MD, MPH

Dr. Sweet is a native Texan and attended The University of Texas at Austin for undergraduate studies. He earned his Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees at the University of Illinois and then did residency training at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Sweet came back to Austin, TX for specialized training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and has been in practice since 2009.Dr. Sweet believes strongly in working with, and training Physician Assistants to treat the behavioral health needs of adults, children and adolescents.

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