4 Things To Know About Using TMS Therapy To Treat Depression

Posted on: 30 July 2021

For many individuals, standard treatments aren't effective at alleviating their depression. These individuals may benefit from the use of less common treatments, like TMS therapy.

TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. During TMS sessions, magnetic cells stimulate the nerve cells in the brain. Here's what you should know about using TMS therapy to treat your depression.

1. Researchers Aren't Entirely Sure Why TMS Therapy Works

Medical professionals don't exactly know why TMS therapy is successful for patients who haven't responded to other depression treatments. One school of thought believes that magnetic stimulation changes how the brain works by impacting the nerve cells that regulate mood levels. These changes to the brain may lead to higher mood levels and decreased depressive symptoms. 

2. TMS Therapy Is Non-Invasive With Mild Side Effects

TMS therapy doesn't require an operation or procedure to insert the device that delivers the magnetic stimulation. Instead, a coil is held to the area where your scalp and forehead meet. This coil administers the magnetic forces that impact your brain. No anesthesia is necessary for the procedures, and you'll be able to drive yourself home after your session. 

Side effects associated with TMS therapy are usually mild and decrease with repeated sessions. The most common side effects include headaches, discomfort at the treatment site, dizziness, and twitching of the facial muscles.

Rarely, some patients experience seizures, hearing loss, or mania. Mania is more common in patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Patients should wear ear protection during their sessions to ensure that their hearing is protected. 

If you're significantly impacted by the side effects, your doctor can experiment with the level of magnetic stimulation. 

3. It May Take a Few Weeks of Treatment to See Results

While some patients feel different after their first session, others need a few weeks of TMS sessions before they experience mood changes. You'll likely have daily treatments most days of the week for at least a month. 

If TMS therapy is effective at alleviating your depressive symptoms, you may be able to then manage your depression with more conventional alternatives, like therapy and prescription medication. Or, you can undergo another round of TMS therapy if you experience future symptoms. 

4. Insurance May Not Cover TMS Therapy

Since TMS therapy is a relatively new depression treatment, some insurance companies don't cover the cost of the treatments. If it isn't covered by your insurance, discuss alternative payment options with your doctor. Some doctors offer a discounted price to individuals self-paying for their sessions.