What is TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is an FDA approved, non-invasive treatment option that offers long-term relief for major depression. Using short pulses of magnetic energy, this revolutionary treatment stimulates areas of the brain that control mood and are under-active in people with depression.
How does TMS work?
Safe and effective, TMS generates magnetic pulses similar in type and strength to that of an MRI machine. When directed into specific areas of the brain, these electromagnetic pulses:
Optimize blood flow
Facilitate the release of neurotransmitters
Encourage the release of neurotrophic growth factor (BDNF), an important chemical that directly impacts connections between brain cells
Results from clinical trials indicate that two out of three patients experienced either a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms or complete remission. Further studies demonstrate that TMS therapy often leads to long-term remission: in a one-year observational study of patients who met criteria for response or remission, 60 percent enjoyed the same level of response criteria 12 months later.
Placement & Settings
During treatment, our psychiatrist, Dr. Chad Brown, determines the correct placement of the treatment coil and the energy settings of the magnetic field, unique to each patient. The pulses target the front part of the brain, specifically the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex.
Next, the TMS device produces a series of MRI-strength magnetic pulses. The sessions include between 3000 and 5000 pulses and last between 20 and 50 minutes. Patients may experience a mild tapping on their scalp, and hear a clicking sound.
Patients do not require anesthesia and remain awake to read, do guided-meditation, use our iPad to do brain games, or listen to music during the procedure. After the treatment, patients can resume normal daily activity.
What are the side effects from TMS?
Several large clinical trials show TMS is safe, with less than 5 percent of patients discontinuing treatment due to discomfort. Because TMS is non-systemic, it does not cause weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth and/or sedation, all of which are commonly associated with oral antidepressant treatment.
The most commonly reported side effect with TMS is scalp discomfort during the first week and generally subsides over the course of treatment.
What are the potential risks with TMS?
TMS involves the use of magnetic fields, which means that patients with magnetic sensitive metals implanted in their heads should avoid this treatment. Examples include cochlear implants, implanted electrodes/stimulators, aneurysm clips or coils, stents and bulleted fragments.
There is a rare risk of seizure with TMS, estimated to be less than 0.003%. This risk is less than the risk of seizure reported for certain antidepressant medications.
Is TMS similar to electroshock therapy (ECT)?
TMS is not the same as ECT, which requires the use of anesthesia and relies on the intentional induction of seizures. ECT is also associated with short-term confusion or memory loss, which is not a side effect of TMS.