You have a mental health issue that you’re taking medications for, but your symptoms aren’t improving and you’re tired of living under a cloud. You’re not alone — nearly 31% of those treated with medications for major depressive disorder are treatment-resistant.
The good news is that medications aren’t the only solution. Here at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Dr. Diana Ghelber and our team have had great success with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy. From depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder, TMS is helping scores of our patients to reclaim their lives in the face of mental illness.
Whether you’re contemplating TMS or you’ve already decided to go ahead with the treatment, we want to spend some time discussing what it’s like to undergo this noninvasive therapy. Let’s take a look.
TMS at a glance
With TMS, you wear a device over your head, which we call a coil, that delivers the magnetic impulses into your brain.
You sit in a chair during the treatment and we recommend that you wear comfortable clothes that will keep you warm as we use a cooling fan at the same time.
Please note that TMS therapy is an intensive treatment in that we’ll be treating you five days a week for 4-6 weeks. Each visit, except for the first, is about 20 minutes and there’s no downtime afterward so you’re free to get back to your day without skipping a beat.
Your first TMS visit
Your first TMS visit will be unlike the others as we spend some time working on measuring your head and positioning the device so that we’re targeting the correct area of your brain.
Before we get started, we provide you with earplugs to project your ears against the loud noise of the magnet (you’ll wear this ear protection for every TMS treatment).
Once we position the TMS device, we measure the amount of energy we use by observing certain reactions, such as a twitch in your thumb, which is perfectly normal.
When we activate the device to deliver magnetic impulses, you’ll feel a tapping sensation on your head, but nothing stronger than that.
Getting into your TMS therapy
After your first visit, your follow-up TMS sessions will go much more quickly. As we mentioned, they’re only about 20 minutes long, which means you can fit them in on a lunch break or some other convenient time.
A great tip is to use the 20 minutes to practice meditation or deep breathing exercises that help pass the time and improve your mental health even further.
When to expect results from your TMS treatments
Each of our patients responds to TMS differently, so it’s difficult to put a definitive timeline on your TMS therapy. Some patients notice an improvement in their symptoms after just one visit while others experience a change after 3-4 sessions.
Depending upon how you respond, we may start to decrease the number of times that you visit from five times a week to 2-3. Most of our patients finish their TMS therapy after 4-6 weeks.
When it comes to how well TMS works, reports show that 50% to 60% of TMS patients with treatment-resistant depression experience clinically meaningful results and one-third experience full remission.
Bear in mind that your mental health issue can recur down the road, at which point you can undergo another round of noninvasive TMS.
If you have more questions about what to expect during your TMS treatments, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas.