What to Expect and How to Prepare for TMS Treatment

It’s frustrating when your depression treatment isn’t effective. When you’ve tried antidepressants and gone through therapy without any improvements, you may start to lose hope. Fortunately, there are now more options and new technology available to help treat depression. TMS especially has gained popularity as a treatment for major depressive disorders and treatment-resistant depression. But what can you expect from TMS treatment?

To help you prepare, here’s everything you need to know before beginning TMS treatment.

What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a relatively new treatment for depression, mood, and anxiety disorders. It’s a non-invasive treatment that’s proving to be effective for treatment-resistant depression. 

TMS treatment works similarly to antidepressants except that TMS doesn’t affect brain chemistry. Instead, it directs a magnetic pulse into a patient’s brain to stimulate neural impulses and promote brain activity. According to Psychology Today,TMS has been “proven to treat clinical depression even when prior conventional methods have failed.” 

Before You Begin

Before starting TMS treatment, you’ll have to undergo a physical and psychiatric evaluation to determine if it’s an appropriate treatment. Typically, TMS will only be recommended for people who suffer from major depressive disorders or have been unsuccessful with antidepressants.

Before you begin treatment, make sure to tell your doctor if you:

  • Have a medical history or family history of seizures

  • Have any implanted metal devices for example:

    • Stents

    • Implanted stimulators

    • Electrodes for monitoring brain activity

    • Cochlear implants

  • Are taking any medications

  • Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

What to Expect

TMS is a safe and tested form of treatment and many people experience relief from the symptoms of their depression. The research in this exciting field is ongoing, and studies continue to show how effective and safe it is.

Your First Appointment

During treatment, your doctor will place an electromagnetic coil against your head. At your first appointment, your doctor will need to determine where to place the magnets and what dose of magnetic energy will work best for you. The doctor will then use magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of your brain. You’ll be awake during treatment and will likely feel a slight tapping sensation against your forehead and hear a loud clicking noise. 

Following Appointments

In order to effectively treat depression, you’ll need to undergo treatment for about 4-6 weeks. A 2016 CANMAT study found that: “clinical trials and naturalistic studies have found maximal effects at 26 to 28 sessions.” 

Your regular appointments will be around 20 minutes long. Aside from this, you can expect treatments to mirror your initial appointment. Keep in mind it may take your doctor a couple appointments to find the best areas of your brain to stimulate and determine the perfect level of magnetic energy.

After Your Treatment

Once you finish treatment, the symptoms of depression should either improve or disappear. Remember, you probably won’t feel better after your first appointment; it’ll take several weeks to experience relief. CANMAT’s 2016 study states: “Clinical experience concurs in suggesting 20 sessions before declaring treatment failure, with extension to 25 to 30 sessions if improvements occur.”

Some people continue TMS treatment after their symptoms have gone away to help prevent the return of their depression and any symptoms.

Possible Side Effects

Unlike other treatments for major depressive disorders, TMS doesn’t tend to have any serious side effects.  During and immediately following the treatment some people experience some slight discomfort along their scalp and may experience a mild headache.

Some research has found that in very rare cases, TMS may cause:

·     Seizures

·     Mania (especially in people with bipolar disorder)

·     Hearing loss (if you don’t have adequate ear protection)

In order to avoid these side effects, please make sure you share your medical history with your doctor before starting treatment.

If you’re looking for TMS treatment in Edmonton, come to Envision Mind Care. Our team of experts is ready to look after your mental health and make sure you feel your best. Get in touch with us to set up an appointment.

Karthikeyan Ganapathy