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TMS Therapy Treatment for Depression

TMS Depression Therapy

Living with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), or clinical depression, can significantly impact your life, but you are not alone. As you explore options for treatment, you may have tried one or many antidepressant prescription medications. If medication isn’t successful in treating your depression or you are looking for a non-medicated treatment option, consider exploring TMS therapy. TMS therapy is an alternative option to medication treatment and has a proven track record for remission for people living with depression.


TMS: A Non-Medicated Treatment for Depression

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS therapy, is a safe process that many mental health specialists offer when therapy and medications aren’t successful for their patients.

This FDA-cleared therapy treats depression right at the source using magnetic pulses on the areas of the brain that regulate mood. TMS therapy is not a prescription medication, so patients don’t experience the side effects often caused by antidepressant medication. Due to its success, it is now considered a standard approach for patients with depression.


How Does it Work?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy uses a targeted pulsed magnetic field, similar to what is used in an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine. While the patient is awake and alert, TMS therapy stimulates areas of the brain that are underactive in people living with depression. Central Iowa Psychological Services is pleased to offer NeuroStar Advanced Therapy, which includes three phases:

Before Treatment

  • You’ll recline comfortably in the treatment chair
  • A small, curved magnetic coil will be positioned lightly on your head

During Treatment

  • NeuroStar delivers focused magnetic stimulation directly to the target areas of the brain

  • you’ll hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping sensation on your head

 After Treatment

  • You can resume normal activities immediately
  • Due to there being no effects on alertness or memory, you can drive yourself to and from treatment sessions

    What NeuroStar Advanced Therapy?

    There are many options available for TMS therapy, but Central Iowa Psychological Services uses NeuroStar Advanced Therapy because of their proven results. They have the largest clinical data set of any TMS treatment available. Clinical studies with over 900 people show that NeuroStar helps achieve remission for people living with depression. Learn more about NeuroStar by visiting their website.

    The National Institute for Mental Health, funded an independent and randomized controlled trial. The results showed that people treated with TMS using the NeuroStar Advanced Therapy were four times more likely to achieve remission compared to patients receiving sham treatment.

    In-office treatment with NeuroStar TMS Therapy takes 19-37 minutes and is administered 5 days a week for approximately 4-6 weeks.

    Is TMS Therapy Right For You?

    If you agree with two or more of these statements, schedule a free consultation to learn more about NeuroStar® Advanced Therapy:

    • Depression symptoms have interfered with my daily life.
    • I am not satisfied with the results I get from depression medication.
    • I have had, or have worried about, side effects from depression medications.
    • I have switched medications for depression due to side effects.
    • I am interested in a proven, non-drug therapy for depression.

    TMS Therapy FAQs

    What is TMS?

    TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. It is a non-surgical procedure used to treat depression by stimulating the brain using electromagnetic fields, similar to those produced by an MRI machine. During TMS Therapy, a magnetic field is administered in very short pulses to the part of the brain that is associated with depression. These pulses of magnetic energy are the same type and strength as those produced by an MRI.

    TMS Therapy uses short pulses of electric current to stimulate the brain cells in the area of the brain that is thought to function abnormally in patients with depression. These electrical currents activate cells within the brain which are thought to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Since depression is thought to be the result of an imbalance of these chemicals in the brain, TMS can restore that balance and, thus, relieve depression.

    Does TMS hurt?

    The most commonly reported symptom is some sensitivity at the site where the magnetic pulse is directed. Many patients describe the feeling of TMS as a light tapping or ‘tingly’ sensation on their forehead.

    The most common side effect of TMS is a temporary mild headache during or shortly after the TMS session. Most patients who experience headaches report that they only happen in the first week or two of treatment. Other symptoms include mild facial twitching during treatment or a slight tingling sensation on the forehead or scalp at the site of the stimulation.

    Does it work?

    For many people, depression symptoms significantly improved or went away after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment with NeuroStar Advanced Therapy.

    In clinical trials after the acute phase of treatment, 33% of patients achieved remission, and 62% had a positive response (50% reduction in symptoms).

    What are the side effects?

    The most common side effect is discomfort at the treatment site. Some patients complain of a headache following treatments for the first few days. Your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter medicine before your treatment if you experience discomfort. Most patients find any discomfort lessens after the first 5 days of treatment.

    You get to relax in a comfortable reclining chair. You will feel a tapping sensation on the front part of the left side of your head. Everyone perceives the pulses differently, and your provider can make adjustments so you are more comfortable.

    Is TMS safe?

    The FDA approved the use of TMS for the treatment of depression in 2008. Since then, multiple clinical trials have been done on tens-of-thousands of patients. The results of these studies have proven that TMS Therapy is a safe and effective alternative in treating patients who have not experienced adequate relief from their depression symptoms with medications.

    Is TMS like shock therapy?

    Yes and No. Although TMS and Electroconvulsive Therapy (aka ECT or ‘Shock Therapy’) both work to stimulate the brain; ECT must be administered in a hospital setting, and you must be sedated (put to sleep) in order to tolerate the treatment. In ECT, electric currents are delivered to the brain in way that causes small seizures. The most commonly reported side effects of ECT treatment are nausea, headache, jaw pain, muscle aches, confusion, or even memory loss of events that occurred in the weeks before or after treatment.

    With TMS, the treatments are given in an outpatient/office setting, while you are awake. During TMS sessions, patients are encouraged to read, watch videos, play a game on their phone, or participate in any other activity that they can while sitting upright in the TMS chair. It is important to take in positive stimuli while the treatment is in progress.

    Is TMS safe?

    Do I stop taking my medications when I go through TMS Therapy?

    Do not stop taking your medications prior to TMS Therapy. Throughout the course of your therapy, we will work with your Primary Care Physician or Health Care Provider to manage your medications. Some people continue to take some or all of their antidepressant medications throughout the entire course of treatment. Based on your response, your doctor may begin tapering off some of your medications during or after TMS therapy.

    Why is TMS therapy better than medication?

    For people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), long-term remission becomes less likely with each prescription medication treatment attempt. As antidepressant medication increases, so can side effects and the potential for treatment failure.

    NeuroStar Advanced Therapy can help people who struggle with MDD even after taking antidepressant medication. It helps activate the natural function of the brain’s neurotransmitters using a non-invasive magnetic field.

    How much does TMS cost and does insurance cover it?

    Most health insurance companies cover TMS Therapy, but the amount of coverage for the treatment can vary for each insurance provider. Some will cover it 100%, while others will only cover a portion of the cost. The out-of-pocket cost for you may differ based on your plan benefits, co-pays, or deductibles. With your consent, we can do a benefit investigation prior to determine exactly what your out-of-pocket cost would be. We can also work with you on payment options as needed.

    How long does a TMS course of therapy take?

    The typical initial course of treatment consists of 30-36 sessions. One treatment session takes about 20-30 minutes. A standard TMS Therapy schedule is one session per day, 4 or 5 days a week for 6 weeks. After the initial phase, the therapy is tapered off over the course of 3 weeks with 2-3 sessions [days] per week. The total ‘treatment period’ is between 2-3 months, depending on how it is scheduled.

    What if I can’t come every day or if I miss days?

    For optimal results, we recommend following the standard treatment schedule, BUT we understand that things come up in life. If you have to miss an appointment, we will work with you to reschedule your session. If a major life event occurs, and you have to miss multiple sessions, we will provide counsel on your options for resuming therapy so that you can have the best possible outcome.

    How long does it take for TMS to work?

    The response to treatment varies based on the individual. Many patients start to feel the positive effects of TMS therapy after the first week, but on average, patients reported a “Noticeable Difference” in their general mood sometime between 2-4 weeks of therapy. Many patients reported that their depression symptoms continued to improve even after their course of therapy was complete.

    How long do the effects of TMS last?

    The lasting effect of TMS varies by patient; however, multiple clinical trials [studies] have shown that after one year nearly 70% of patients maintained their level of response (which means they felt the same way as they did after completing their course of treatment); and 45% of patients achieved ‘remission’ (meaning they found relief from or were free of depressive symptoms). In some cases (maybe due to age, life changes, severity of depression, or environmental factors), patients may need to return at some point for an additional course of TMS Therapy, called ‘maintenance therapy’. In clinical studies only 1 in 3 patients needed to return for maintenance therapy sessions.