What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is one of the most effective treatments available for depression approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008. TMS therapy is a safe and effective option for patients suffering from major depression whose symptoms persist despite prior treatment attempts with antidepressant medications. Transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment is a brief, non-invasive, outpatient procedure that involves using an MRI-strength coil to produce magnetic pulses to stimulate an underactive area of your brain that is responsible for causing symptoms of depression. These electromagnetic pulses activate neurons, enhance brain functioning, and effectively improve depressive symptoms.
Is TMS Right For Me?
TMS can be an effective treatment option for those who have depression that have not responded to therapy, antidepressant medications, or are experiencing severe side effects from medication (i.e. weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness). Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is also a good alternative treatment for those who cannot receive or are reluctant to try electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
The TMS procedure is well-tolerated with very few side effects that could include slight headache or mild scalp discomfort. While clinically appropriate for many, patients are not eligible who have history of seizures, as well as those who have implanted conductive ferromagnetic, and magnetic responsive metals into their head or neck area, such as:
- Cochlear implants
- Implanted electrodes/stimulators
- Aneurysm clips/coils
- Bullet fragments
From our NYC and Scarsdale locations, Lenox Hill Mind Care carefully screens all our patients prior to treatment through a thorough medical history.
How Does TMS Work?
TMS is ideal for treatment-resistant depression and anxiety and is a brief, non-invasive outpatient procedure performed right in our clinic that does not cause significant disruption to your daily life. TMS treatment is highly targeted, reaching about 2-3 centimeters into the brain, directly beneath the treatment coil. This specialized coil produces magnetic pulses similar to those employed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. These pulses create small electric currents in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the region of your brain where low activity causes depressive symptoms. Although you will not feel the electric currents, they activate neurons (brain cells) and help them return to normal function over the course of treatment (typically ~8 weeks) and effectively treats the depressive illness.
How Is TMS Delivered/Administered?
A typical course of TMS lasts 6-8 weeks and depends on a patient’s response to therapy. TMS is delivered daily, 5 days per week (Monday – Friday) in 20- or 45-minute sessions. While completing the procedure 5 days per week achieves the fastest results, 3 to 4 days per week is the minimum time commitment required. Your magnetic field exposure throughout the course of the treatment, which is less than you would receive from an MRI, is minimal. You will remain awake during these short non-invasive procedures. Most of our patients will relax comfortably during the procedure, watching Netflix® or Hulu®, listening to music, or meditating. Patients can return to work, class, and other normal daily activities right after each session.