How MagStim Repetitive Sessions Work
TMS is performed in a doctor’s office or clinic without any needed anesthetic. Treatment sessions last less than 5 minutes and are typically performed 5 days per week extending over a six-week period. The patient sits in a comfortable chair and may be provided with earplugs. Some measurements may be taken before positioning the magnetic coil on the patient’s head before treatment begins. During the session, many patients read, watch television, or just sit back and relax.
Magstim TMS Therapy uses short pulses of magnetic energy to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. These magnetic pulses are delivered to the area in the brain that researchers believe is responsible for emotional judgment and mood regulation. The rapid magnetic pulses created by the TMS system pass through the skull and generate an electric current in the brain directly under the treatment coil. These electric currents cause neurons to fire and stimulate surrounding brain cells.
Patients remain awake and alert throughout the treatment session. Some people report feeling a moderate tapping on their head under the treatment coil and hear a clicking sound. When the session concludes, patients are able to drive home and may resume normal activities for the rest of the day.
What to Expect From rTMS Treatment
Your MagStim Repetitive TMS Treatment will be delivered in either a doctor’s office or clinic about five times per week for six weeks. During your treatment sessions, you’ll get to relax in a comfortable chair, and you’ll be able to read, listen to music or watch TV while being treated.
During this time, you may feel some moderate tapping on your scalp and hear a clicking sound. This tapping is usually under the treatment coil where the device is delivering the short pulses of magnetic energy.
Once this painless, noninvasive procedure is complete, you’ll be ready to resume your regular daily routine.
Getting Started on Magstim Repetitive TMS Treatment
A person who has MDD and is either unresponsive to prescription medications to treat it or finds the side effects too difficult to tolerate can investigate if TMS treatment is right for them. A prescription for it is required, which can be provided by a psychiatrist who conducts a thorough evaluation to determine if TMS is the right approach to try. The evaluation will take into consideration things like a patient’s history, their past and current medication usage, previous attempts at treating their depression, and any possible health risks.
The psychiatrist will determine what frequency of appointments is needed and the length of each one. When treatment is approved, a patient can decide where to receive treatment. The patient will be monitored with regular check-ins with their psychiatrist to monitor progress made and any side effects that occur.
TMS therapy is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare. Some states also allow Medicaid coverage of it. Prior authorization is typically required for insurance coverage, making it important to check on that before scheduling any sessions.
TMS vs Antidepressant
TMS is typically prescribed either when a person’s MDD does not respond to the use of antidepressants or the side effects they experience due to using the medications prove intolerable. Antidepressants are systemic, which means that the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream. Many people who take prescription medications for depression experience numerous side effects. TMS is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure with no systemic side effects.
TMS vs ECT
TMS and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) are both effective in the treatment of depression, but ECT is associated with more side effects and is significantly more intense. ECT is performed in a hospital and the patient must be anesthetized and restrained during the procedure. ECT works by applying a brief electrical pulse to the brain that medically induces a seizure. TMS requires no hospitalization, anesthesia, or restraining.
While some people do experience possible side effects from TMS, they typically occur only during the treatment sessions and are temporary. Side effects may include tenderness of the scalp, headache, jaw pain, or tooth pain. In rare incidences, a seizure may occur.