Everything You Need to Know About TMS

Individuals who suffer from depression frequently struggle with daily tasks such as going to work or interacting with others. This can make life extremely difficult for a person who has depression. It also tends to make life challenging for those who love them. In recent years, mainstream treatments for depression have come a long way. However, they don’t work in every case. There are times when it’s necessary to explore other forms of treatment that may be available.

Transmagnetic Stimulation (TMS)

First off what is TMS and how does it work? Simply put, it is a means of stimulating the brain as a noninvasive treatment for depression. It’s accomplished by manipulating magnetic fields with a metal coil placed on or near the forehead. If you or someone you love suffers from depression and more traditional treatments have proven unsuccessful, this may be an option for you. Below are seven things you need to know about TMS.

1. It doesn’t hurt

One of the first things people commonly want to know is whether or not this form of treatment hurts. Understandably, this would be a question, especially when you consider the fact that a metal coil is used to stimulate the brain. Unlike more invasive procedures, there is typically no significant pain associated with this form of treatment.

2. It may be a last resort

This is not typically the first line of treatment for depression. Instead, it’s more commonly used for those who have tried various medications and even psychotherapy without any measurable success. This is a treatment that’s typically considered when everything else has failed.

3. There’s still much to be learned

Even though this treatment is used on some patients who struggle to find relief from their depression, it’s not entirely well understood. Doctors know that the metal coil uses magnetic fields to stimulate the brain. It’s believed that the areas of the brain stimulated are responsible for mood. Therefore, by altering those areas, it may be possible to reduce the symptoms of depression.

4. You’re fully awake during the procedure

This isn’t like electro-shock therapy or deep brain stimulation. As such, you don’t have to be sedated during the treatment sessions. You can be fully conscious throughout the procedure, typically without experiencing adverse side effects.

5. Common side effects are usually mild

It’s important to realize that not everyone experiences side effects. For those who do, they are typically mild, and they tend to go away after a few treatments. These potential side effects include lightheadedness, a tingling sensation in the facial muscles, and headache. Doctors can adjust the intensity of treatment if the side effects become problematic.

6. Rarely, side effects may be more serious

There are rare occasions when patients experience severe side effects associated with the treatment. They include hearing loss and even seizures. In patients who also have bipolar disorder, mania has been reported.

7. A thorough medical history and exam are required

To minimize the chances of severe side effects, patients considering this treatment typically undergo a thorough medical exam in conjunction with a detailed medical history. Those who have a seizure disorder are not good candidates for the procedure, nor are patients who suffer from migraines or have a history of brain injury. By the same token, those with a history of a brain aneurysm should avoid the treatment.

For individuals who have seemingly tried everything to help them deal with their depression, this treatment may be the answer. It’s not for everyone, to be sure. However, it does offer one more avenue of treatment for those who are locked in a daily struggle with depression.