TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. If that sounds scary, it’s anything but. TMS is a proven outpatient treatment for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that has you wearing a lightweight headset with an attached magnet that sends out pulses. It is completely painless, and you remain awake during the procedure.
We now provide TMS to our patients with treatment-resistant depression who meet the criteria.
What is TMS exactly?
A non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve depression and OCD symptoms. Because this treatment involves delivering repetitive magnetic pulses, it is sometimes called repetitive TMS or rTMS.
TMS is often prescribed for depression or OCD when first-line treatments such as medication and therapy are ineffective.
Although the mechanism behind TMS is not entirely clear, most experts believe the magnetic pulses activate regions of the brain that show decreased activity in people with depression.
TMS may be right for you if: You have taken medications such as anti-depressants without results, or you have experienced bad side effects from those medications. A SunCloud provider can advise you if TMS is a good and safe option for you.
How long does TMS treatment last?
You normally sit for the treatment once a day for four to six weeks. The duration of treatment depends on your response to it. Your SunCloud Health provider will advise you on the optimal duration for you as you progress through your course of treatment.
What happens during a therapy session?
Once you’re seated, your provider will be sure you’re not wearing metal jewelry or metal-framed glasses. You’ll be given earplugs to protect you from the loud clicking sounds the magnet makes.
A headset with the magnet will then be placed on your head. Your provider will give you single-pulse test stimulations to determine the optimal pulse strength and best placement of the magnet.
When treatment starts, you’ll hear rhythmic clicking sounds, with occasional pauses. Your session will last anywhere from several minutes to a half hour. Normally you can leave immediately after your session, with no restrictions on driving.
Are there side effects with TMS? Side effects are rare. When they occur, they normally don’t last longer than a few minutes after your session. Possible side effects include:
- Slight pain in the scalp or neck
- Tingling or twitching facial muscles
Benefits of TMS therapy include: No surgery required, it’s painless, serious side effects are very rare, it works well with other treatments including medication and therapy, and it’s effective. Success rates vary by condition and for each person, but research clearly shows it works. That’s good news for the 30 to 50 percent of people with depression whose first-line treatments are inadequate.
Do the positive results of TMS last? Symptom relief may last weeks, months, or longer. Patients often continue with their first-line treatments after they finish their TMS course. If symptoms return, TMS treatment can be repeated.
What to know about TMS at SunCloud Health
- TMS treatment will be available for adults (18+).
- Treatment will be provided at our Northbrook residential location only, but is available to all patients in the SunCloud Health system who meet the treatment criteria.
- TMS treatment is covered in-network by most commercial health insurance policies.