How to Prepare for TMS Therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been effective in treating several mental health disorders. Learn more here.

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

Though originally used only as a diagnostic tool for neuro-motor disorders, transcranial magnetic stimulation was later confirmed to elicit positive medicinal effects similar to those of antidepressant medications in patients battling depression. More research was then dedicated to developing TMS until it became one of the most effective ways of dealing with treatment-resistant depression. It was FDA-approved in 2008.1

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a form of brain stimulation where electromagnetic pulses are used to induce small electric currents in the brain. These currents then stimulate the neurons to improve brain activity, thereby relieving symptoms of neurological and brain

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Scope of TMS

Not only is TMS effective in treating depression, but it is also non-invasive. TMS can also be used to address other disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, anxiety, OCD, severe brain trauma, and others.

How Does TMS Differ From Other Techniques?

Several other medical approaches are used in treating and managing mental illness conditions. Some of these treatment approaches include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT or shock therapy), psychotherapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, use of antidepressant medications, and so on.

However, it is worth mentioning that TMS differs from all of these other mental illness treatment approaches. This is because, unlike these other options, TMS:

  • Is structural, physiological, and non-invasive
  • Does not require the use of medications
  • Does not induce seizures
  • Has relatively no major side effects
  • Has zero recovery time

When is TMS Used?

TMS is widely used for treating major depressive disorder that has proven resistant to treatment using conventional treatment approaches. In addition, it is also used to treat other mental health disorders. Some examples of other transcranial magnetic stimulation therapies available aside from TMS for depression include TMS therapy for addiction, TMS for OCD, TMS for PTSD, TMS therapy for autism, and TMS for anxiety.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Types

There are two types of TMS, and this classification is based on the type of simulation involved in the treatment process. These TMS types are repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS), which is an advanced form of (rTMS). Although both types treat the same symptoms basically, there are other subtle differences between the two.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

rTMS is another name for TMS. In rTMS, simulations are carried out using the characteristic figure-8 coil technology. This particular coil technology, however, can only reach 3cm from the coil surface to the prefrontal cortex.3

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS)

dTMS is an improvement on the traditional TMS, and it is usually administered to adults eighteen years or older. Here, a patented H-coil technology held inside a padded helmet is used, and this switch ensures that deep TMS stimulations can reach deeper and cover wider areas of the brain.

How to Prepare For TMS Therapy

Although TMS therapy is generally well-tolerated, it is worth mentioning that some requirements or prerequisites must be met before a patient is allowed to proceed with TMS therapy. These will be detailed below.

Physical Exam

TMS therapy preparation usually starts with a physical examination. Here, patients are physically examined through standard lab tests and questioning to see if TMS is clinically suitable to treat their depression.

Psychiatric Evaluation

After a physical examination has been conducted, licensed mental health professionals will then conduct psychiatric evaluations. This is done to determine how fit a patient is to receive TMS therapy.

Info Your Doctor Should Know

During the physical and mental examination processes, your doctor or medical care provider will ask you a number of questions. You must ensure to answer these questions as accurately as possible because your answers will not only determine if TMS therapy will be safe for you, but they also help your doctors to come up with a treatment plan that is perfect for your needs.

Some of the things your doctor will need to know include if you have:4

  •  Metal implants or plates in your eye, ear, or head
  •   A known risk of seizures, e.g., epilepsy, brain tumors, severe head trauma
  •   Tattoo with magnetic-sensitive ink
  •   Stents in the neck or brain
  •     Aneurysm clips or coils
  •     Electrodes
  •    Shrapnel or bullet fragments near your head
  •     If you’re pregnant or nursing

If you have any of the above-listed metal implants, you should know that TMS therapy is not safe for you, so you won’t be cleared to proceed with TMS treatment. Braces and dental fillings, however, do not prevent people from getting TMS.

Preparation Before Your First Appointment

To prepare for your first appointment, you may need to bring along metal-free earplugs to protect your ears or listen to some music, although this may likely be provided for you at the hospital or clinic.

It is recommended that you also take a loved one along for support during your TMS therapy session. In addition, you should pack some painkillers and a bottle of water just in case you experience any side effects. Some of these possible TMS side effects include headaches, scalp discomfort, facial twitching, and rarely, seizures. Finally, feel free to ask your doctor questions anytime, and rest assured that the procedure is not painful.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Expectations

TMS therapy is an outpatient therapy that a technician usually administers under the supervision of an attending physician in a clinic or hospital.

What You Can Expect During TMS Therapy

First, you’ll be awake and comfortably seated during the procedure, and no anesthesia will be administered to you because there’s no need for it. You will also be asked to remove any magnet-sensitive things on you, such as jewelry, credit cards, etc. For your first appointment, your head will be measured to ensure the TMS magnetic coil fits properly. Note that you may experience some tapping or knocking sensation that is typically not painful after the magnetic coil is placed on your head and the impulses are released. 5

These magnetic impulses may create loud clicking sounds, so it is recommended that you protect your ears with metal-free earplugs. Each session can last for about twenty to forty minutes. In addition, TMS therapy usually lasts for four to six weeks in total, and the duration of your treatment is dependent on your response to it. Lastly, TMS can be costly, but many insurances often recognize and cover TMS treatment for multiple mental health conditions.5

Essence Healthcare TMS Services

At Essence Health, we offer different rTMS treatment services for all levels of care using FDA-certified devices in TMS therapy: the Apollo, Nexstim, and CloudTMS methods.

We have empathetic, competent, and qualified staff who are highly experienced and devoted to helping you get better. At Essence Healthcare, we place a premium on treatment efficacy and patient safety and comfort, so you can rest assured you’ll be able to enjoy top-notch personalized care. Call or visit us today to book an appointment.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.