4 Commonly Asked Questions About Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

TMS Therapy Response Rate at Nexus

How do I know if TMS is Right for Me?

If you have tried psychotherapy and trialed at least two antidepressants with no luck, TMS may be the right treatment option for you. Additionally, if taking antidepressants has negatively impacted your day-to-day life, TMS could be a positive alternative.  

Other reasons that TMS may be right for you include worrying about side effects from depression medications, having previously switched depression medications due to side effects, or are simply interested in a proven, non-drug therapy for your depression.    

What Should I Expect when I Start TMS?

When a patient first starts TMS treatment they are seated in a comfortable chair that they can relax in. The patient’s technician will be there with them every step of the way, making sure that treatments are running smoothly. Technicians are also there to answer any questions that the patient may have, while additionally giving the patient any support that they might need throughout the duration of treatment. The patient is fully awake and able to communicate throughout their treatments. They will have 36 treatments total with each treatment lasting anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Our patients specifically will come into the office five days a week, at a time that has been decided between them and their technician. It is okay to miss a session or two of your treatment if needed. Things happen, and there are no horrible side effects or consequences for not being able to make a treatment.  

Before treatment, your technician will ask you to remove any metal hair clips, hearing aids, glasses, or earrings before starting your treatment. Braces are okay. Our providers and technicians will be sure to ask you if you have any metal pieces or plates in or near your scalp, as that will more than likely affect your TMS treatment and other options will need to be looked into.  

All patients are offered earplugs before their treatments to minimize the clicking sound of the TMS equipment. When treatment starts, the patient will feel a quick succession of tapping on the scalp that repeats itself on and off throughout the course of each treatment.  

Does TMS Hurt?

When patients initially start TMS, the tapping sensation that they experience can feel unusual and may cause discomfort. However, the discomfort tends to only last for the first few treatments. In the first week of treatment, the most common side effect tends to be a headache. Patients are welcome to take over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol, aspirin, and Motrin, before or after their sessions, if needed. Our provider, Dr. Thorkelson, recommends taking Tylenol roughly 30 minutes before treatment begins. As the sessions continue, patients adjust to sensation, making treatment more comfortable.  

How Long Does TMS Take to Work?

TMS treatment is different for every patient. Some patients will start to see relief from their depression as early as 2-3 weeks into their treatment. Others will notice a difference nearer to the end of their treatments, around week 4 or 5. It is important to point out that improvements from depression start gradually with TMS treatment. Getting out of bed may have been easier today than it was yesterday, or maybe your feel less of a weight on your shoulders. The point is that this treatment is not an immediate cure for depression. TMS takes time to work, and it is very important to chart daily growth and progress.

Two out of every three patients that try TMS will see improvements. One out of those two patients will achieve remission. This success rate is the highest out of every mental health treatment that currently exists.  

If TMS sounds interesting to you and you’d like to know more about what TMS services we offer, you’re welcome to visit “TMS Therapy” under the “Services” tab on our website.

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