TMS: Preparation, Appointment, Expectation, and Treatment

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive procedure, uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells found in the brain with the purpose to improve depression symptoms by delivering repetitive magnetic pulses. People suffering from treatment-resistant depression, which means when other treatments to treat depression do not wok, opt for TMS. Anyone considering getting TMS treatment needs to know the following:

Preparing for TMS Treatment

Prior to going in for TMS treatment, people may need to get a physical exam and other lab tests and a psychiatric evaluation to discuss their depression. Doctors will refer to the test results and psychiatric evaluation to ensure that TMS is a safe and the right option for you. Beforehand, you should information your doctor the following things:

  • You are expecting
  • You have a metal or implanted medical device
  • You are on medication
  • You have a history of seizures
  • You suffer from other mental health disorders
  • You have brain damage due to an injury or illness
  • You suffer from severe or frequent headaches
  • You have several medical conditions
  • You have tried TMS therapy before (tell them if it helped you or not)

Prior to Your First TMS Appointment

TMS is not an invasive therapy, does not require anesthesia, and a doctor can perform it on an outpatient basis. You do not need to arrange for someone to drive you to and from work after TMS therapy.

What to Expect?

TMS treatment takes place in a doctor’s clinic or office and requires several treatment sessions to yield results. In most cases, TMS sessions occur each day, 5 times each day week for 4 to 6 weeks.

First TMS Therapy Session

Your doctor will determine the best locations on your head to place the magnets and the most effective dose of magnetic energy they should administer to you. Your first TMS session will last for around one hour. It will begin by taking you to a treatment room, sitting in reclining chair, and giving you earplugs to wear during the session. They will place an electromagnetic coil against your head, and continually turn it on and off. To determine the right magnetic dose, your doctor will increase the magnetic dose until your hands or fingers begin to twitch.

During the TMS Therapy Session

Once the doctor has placed the coil on your head and determined the correct dose, here is what will happen during each session:

  • You will sit in a chair, wear earplugs, and have the coil placed against your head
  • The machine will turn on and you will hear a click and feel a tap on your forehead
  • The entire session will last for around 40 minutes

After the TMS Therapy Session

After the session, you will feel scalp discomfort, both during and after the treatment for a short duration. You can operate a car, go to work, and perform your usual activities after each treatment.

Lastly, you will have the option to continue the treatment by receiving TMS maintenance therapy to treat your depression.