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How Does TMS Therapy Work?

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe and effective non-invasive procedure used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). It uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain through repetitive magnetic pulses, which is why it is often referred to as repetitive TMS or rTMS.

TMS is typically used in cases where other treatments such as antidepressant medications are not providing the desired results. It can be used in conjunction with medication or as a stand-alone treatment.

How Does TMS Therapy Work?

TMS therapy consists of a series of sessions. During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against the scalp, near the forehead. Then, a magnetic pulse is delivered that stimulates nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls mood and activates regions of the brain that have decreased activity due to depression.

A TMS treatment program is performed either by a TMS physician or by a certified TMS technician. Treatment sessions vary in length and can last around 30-40 minutes. TMS therapy usually lasts between 4-6 weeks, but this all depends on an individual’s response to the treatment.

While TMS is painless, there are some common side effects to be aware of.

  • Headache
  • Scalp discomfort

These symptoms are generally mild and decrease with each session. If for any reason these symptoms are causing extreme discomfort, your doctor can adjust the level of stimulation to help reduce the symptoms.

Things You Should Know About Your TMS Therapy Treatment

Before your appointment

TMS therapy sessions are done on an outpatient basis in our Clementon, NJ office. Prior to your first TMS therapy session, you will see one of our Psychiatrists to ensure TMS therapy is right for you. Our Patient Access team will also work with you to ensure the service is covered under your insurance plan.

First treatment session

Your first appointment may be slightly longer than the rest. Your doctor will identify the best placement for the magnets as well as the recommended dose of magnetic energy.
You will be taken into our TMS treatment room where you will sit in a comfortable reclining chair. You may be given earplugs to wear during the session.

The coil will be placed on your head and will produce repeated stimulating pulses. You may feel a tapping sensation on your head. This is part of the mapping process.

During treatment

Each subsequent TMS session after the first will follow a similar pattern. You’ll sit relaxed in the reclining comfortable chair with earplugs in your ears and the coil placed on your head. When the session begins, you will hear clicking sounds and feel a tapping sensation on your forehead. The sessions will last between 10-20 minutes and throughout the session you will be awake and alert. After the treatment is over, you may resume your daily activities such as working and driving.

How Do You Know If You Could Be a Candidate for TMS Therapy?

TMS treatment is ideal for people who are suffering from major depressive disorder and have not found relief through treatment methods such as medication or various types of therapy. If you have tried more than two medications and have not found results, TMS might be right for you. TMS is also a good treatment option for those who cannot take certain medications due to severe side effects.

The best way to determine if you are a good candidate for TMS therapy is to meet with a TMS doctor. They will complete an evaluation and exam to determine if this treatment method is right for you.

However, TMS is not suited for everyone. You might not be a candidate for TMS therapy if you have a history of seizures, have frequent or serious headaches, have implanted medical devices, or have brain damage as a result of a previous injury or illness.

Does TMS Therapy Really Work?

TMS is effective in treating 70-80% of people for depression. Over 50% of people who receive TMS will experience complete remission. After the treatment series is complete, medication or therapy may be recommended for upkeep. Like many treatments, even after remission occurs where depression symptoms get better, TMS therapy can be repeated, which is known as re-induction.

TMS therapy is an excellent option for suitable candidates to relieve symptoms associated with depression. Harmony Bay Wellness is excited to offer TMS therapy as a service. To learn more about TMS therapy and our treatment options, give us a call today at 855.765.6399.

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.