Frequently Asked Questions
TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It is used to treat depression by stimulating the brain non-invasively using electromagnetic fields, similar to those produced by an MRI machine. During TMS Therapy, a magnetic field is administered in very short pulses to the part of your brain that research has demonstrated to be associated with depression. The initial course of treatment is typically 20-30 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.
The TMS Therapy system uses short pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate the area of the brain that is thought to function abnormally in patients with depression. The magnetic field produces an electric current in the brain that stimulates the brain cells (neurons). This results in changes that are thought to be beneficial in the treatment of depression.
TMS Therapy is non-systemic, so therefore it is a good alternative for people who are fearful or intolerant of side effects and are otherwise appropriate for treatment. Any treatment option, including TMS, patients and clinicians should work together to find the most appropriate treatment option for each patient.
No, TMS Therapy involves a unique method of using pulsed magnetic fields for potential therapeutic benefit. The intensity of the magnetic field is similar to that of the magnetic fields used in magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. These techniques differ radically from the popular use of low intensity, static magnetic fields. These products deliver weak and undirected static fields that are not capable of activating brain cells.
No, the two procedures are very different. While both are effective in the treatment of depression, there are many differences in safety and tolerability. During the TMS Therapy procedure, patients sit in a chair and are awake and alert throughout the entire procedure – no sedation is used with TMS Therapy. Patients can transport themselves to and from treatment. In over 10,000 active treatments with TMS Therapy in clinical trials, no seizures were observed. TMS Therapy was also shown to have no negative effects on memory function in these studies. In contrast, “shock therapy,” or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), intentionally causes a seizure. Patients receiving ECT must be sedated with general anesthesia and paralyzed with muscle relaxants. Recovery from an ECT treatment session occurs slowly, and patients are usually closely monitored for minutes or a few hours after a treatment. Short-term confusion and memory loss are common, and long-term disruptions in memory have been shown to occur and may persist indefinitely in some people. Because of the side effects associated with ECT, a significant amount of caregiver support is required
In clinical trials, patients received TMS Therapy 5 times per week for 20-30 minutes sessions over 4-6 weeks. Patients treated with TMS Therapy should receive treatment for a minimum of four weeks with additional treatments based on clinical judgment.
No, TMS Therapy uses the same type and strength of magnetic fields as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), which have been used in tens of millions of patients around the world and have not been shown to cause tumors. The magnetic energy used in a full course of TMS Therapy is a small fraction of just one brain scan with an MRI.
No, TMS Therapy was systematically evaluated for its effects on memory. Clinical trials demonstrated that TMS Therapy does not result in any negative effects on memory or concentration.
The most common side effect related to treatment was scalp discomfort during treatment sessions. This side effect was generally mild to moderate, and occurred less frequently after the first week of treatment. If necessary, you can treat this discomfort with an over-the-counter analgesic. If these side effects persist, your technician under the guidance of Dr. Hayden can reduce the strength of the magnetic field pulses being administered in order to make treatment more comfortable.
In most patients, the clinical benefit of TMS Therapy was maintained through 6 months of follow-up study. Should depression symptoms begin to return there are maintenance strategies which can be utilized.
Yes, in clinical trials, TMS Therapy was safely administered with and without other antidepressant medications.
Clinical trials have proven the safety of TMS Therapy in treating patients who’ve had an inadequate response to prior antidepressant medications. Treatment with TMS Therapy caused very few side effects and was generally well tolerated by patients. The most common side effect reported during clinical trials was scalp discomfort—generally mild to moderate and occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment. Fewer than 5% of patients discontinued treatment with TMS Therapy due to adverse events. Over 10,000 active treatments were performed across all clinical trials demonstrating its safety: – No seizures – No systemic side effects – No weight gain – No sexual dysfunction – No sedation – No nausea – No dry mouth – No adverse effects on concentration or memory – No device-drug interactions TMS Therapy should not be used (is contraindicated) in patients with some implanted metallic devices or some non-removable metallic objects in or around the head. Make sure to inform us of any implanted metals in your initial consultation.
• Coverage is being determined based on each individual case.
• We believe there are compelling reasons for reimbursement:
o Target patients have few proven and tolerable options
o Rigorously-designed clinical studies
o Benefit-risk ratio compares favorably to alternatives
• First used in 1985, TMS has been used by researchers around the world to help understand the function of different parts of the brain. Several hundred manuscripts have been published regarding its use in stimulating select regions of the brain.
• Since the mid-1990s, TMS has been studied as an antidepressant therapy.
Note: Information on this site is for reference purposes only. It is not intended to be nor should it be taken as medical advice. Individuals who think they may suffer from major depressive disorder should see a medical professional regarding their symptoms.