TMS, short for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a special treatment designed to reduce or entirely remove the symptoms of depression, OCD, and anxiety. Developed as an alternative to medications, electroconvulsive therapy, and other depression treatments, TMS often works where other methods have failed to alleviate symptoms.
As this is a newer therapy, most patients have many questions regarding its effectiveness. TMS works by delivering electromagnetic pulses into the brain. These pulses stimulate neurons in the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that controls emotions. Lowered activity in these neurons is connected to depression and by stimulating the cell activity there through the magnetic pulses, doctors have been able to reduce or even cure depression.
Understanding TMS Treatment
TMS treatments are a low impact, non-invasive therapy method. During individual treatments, your physician will place an electromagnetic coil on your head. This coil is customized to your individual reactivity and delivers a series of repetitive magnetic pulses.
Each treatment lasts only for about 30 to 40 minutes. It involves no anesthesia, surgery, or pain, although there might be limited discomfort from the clicking noise caused by the pulse or from wearing the coil on your head during treatments.
In a treatment cycle, you will have treatment sessions 5 days a week for about 4 to 8weeks, depending on your individual needs. Some patients begin to experience improvements as soon as 2weeks into treatment, while others can take longer.
Right now, TMS therapy is primarily for depression, but research is also ongoing for using TMS to treat other mental health conditions like anxiety, PTSD, and more.
How Long Do the Effects of TMS Last?
TMS is still a relatively new treatment and doctors are still discovering more about the science behind it and the long term outcomes. What we currently know is that patients who have already received TMS may experience improvement in their symptoms up to a full remission of depression in the months after TMS treatment.
While the initial effects occur during the course of treatment, most patients continue to see ongoing improvement after TMS has ended. Studies of those who have undergone TMS have found:
- Almost 70% had improved symptoms after a year.
- Almost 50% had no symptoms after a year.
How long relief from the symptoms lasts for you depends on many factors. Everyone’s causes and symptoms of depression are slightly different and this can impact the way TMS affects you.
Different strategies can be used concurrently with TMS or in the following months to help you maintain
a low level or no symptoms, if your doctor thinks it necessary. This could include antidepressants or talk therapy to help manage stressors, negative emotions and other triggers that can cause depression. If depression symptoms return in the years following TMS treatment, there may be an option to undergo a second round of TMS to once more help get your depression under control.
If you’re interested in learning more about TMS and looking for a TMS physician in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Aware Behavioral Health is a leading provider of TMS therapy. We can share with you more about this treatment and help you determine if it will work for you. Call Aware Behavioral Health today to set up an initial appointment.