Frequently Asked Questions
Depression has been linked to abnormal function of nerve cells in a specific part of the brain. Highly focused magnetic field pulses used in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy gently stimulate these nerve cells believed to be linked to depression. Evidence shows that TMS is effective in the treatment of moderate to severe depression in patients with a history of treatment resistant depression. It is also associated with fewer hospitalizations and doctor visits.
How does TMS work?
TMS treatment is conducted using a device called the NeuroStar® TMS Therapy System.
While treatment is administered, patients remain awake while sitting in a comfortable reclining chair. A treatment coil is applied to the head and the NeuroStar® TMS Therapy System generates highly concentrated magnetic field pulses that turn on and off rapidly.
In clinical trials, patients reported relief from the emotional effects of depression and experienced improvement in anxiety, changes in appetite, body aches and lack of energy – all physical symptoms of depression.
How many TMS sessions will I need?
Once approved by a psychiatrist for TMS, the patient will be scheduled for a treatment series consisting of five treatments per week (once every day except weekends) over a
4-6 week period for an average of 20-30 treatments. Each treatment lasts
approximately 40 minutes.
What does treatment feel like?
During a TMS treatment, the patient will feel a tapping sensation on the scalp. TMS therapy produces a loud clicking sound, so earplugs are provided.
The most common adverse reaction related to treatment was scalp pain or discomfort at the treatment area during active treatments. This reaction was brief, mild to moderate in severity and declined markedly after the first week of treatment.
What should a patient expect when receiving TMS?
Treatment does not involve any anesthesia or sedation and patients remain awake and alert during the treatment. Patients are able to drive and return to work or other daily activities immediately after treatment.
What should a patient expect after a TMS treatment?
Since TMS treatment does not involve any anesthesia or sedation. During a treatment session patients remain awake and alert during the treatment. Patients are able to drive and/or return to work and/or other daily activities immediately after treatment.
What are the treatment benefits?
In an open-label clinical trial (resembling real world practice) approximately 1 in 2 patients treated with TMS therapy experienced a significant improvement in depression symptoms, and 1 in 3 experienced complete resolution.
- Does not require anesthesia.
- Non invasive.
- Well tolerated.
- Can be done entirely as an outpatient and can drive self to and from the treatment as well as continue normal daily routines, including work, even on treatment days.
- Current data has demonstrated efficacy in patients who have struggled with medication efficacy for their depression.
- May be good alternative for patients who responded to ECT in past.
- No significant memory impairment.
How soon would benefits of TMS treatment be apparent?
Most patients have experienced results by the fourth week of treatment, however everyone is different and some patients may notice benefits over a shorter or longer period of time. During your treatment, a psychiatrist will consult with you to evaluate your progress.
What are the side effects?
The most commonly reported side effect was headache or scalp pain and these side effects were generally mild to moderate and occurred less frequently after the first week of treatment.
What is the difference between TMS & Antidepressants?
TMS Therapy is not a medication so it does not circulate in the blood stream. It does not produce side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, and sedation that are often associated with anti¬depressants. The most common side effects reported during clinical trials were headache and scalp pain or discomfort – generally mild to moderate – occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment. In some instances the side effects are so severe that the patient discontinues treatment.
What is the difference between TMS and ECT?
TMS and ECT are both procedures that treat major depression. The important differences between TMS therapy and ECT include:
- ECT requires anesthesia whereas TMS does not
- ECT uses applies electrical energy whole brain, while TMS uses magnetic energy applied only to the left prefrontal cortex.
- TMS therapy is a non-invasive procedure that does not require anesthesia and does not produce a seizure.
With any treatment, patients and clinicians should work together to determine the most appropriate option.
Does TMS cause memory loss?
TMS Therapy was systematically evaluated for its effects on memory. Clinical trials
demonstrated that Neurostar® TMS Therapy does not result in adverse effects on memory or concentration.
Who should NOT have TMS?
TMS Therapy should not be administered to persons who have non-removable magnetic-sensitive metal in their head or other part of their body that would be within 12 inches of the NeuroStar® Magnetic Coil. Objects that may have this kind of metal include:
- Aneurysm clips or coils
- Implanted Stimulators
- Electrodes to monitor brain activity
- Ferromagnetic implants in your eyes or ears
- Bullet fragments and other metal devices or objects implanted in the head
It should also not be used by patients with implanted devices that are controlled by physiological signals such as pacemakers, etc. If you have questions about metal or implanted devices in your body, please
consult a Lindner Center of HOPE psychiatrist.