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Nearly every type of treatment option in health care can cause some side effects. For example, many prescription drugs can cause symptoms such as nausea, fatigue and headaches. While they aren’t guaranteed to occur, many people may shy away from medications or procedures out of fear of potential lingering issues. When it comes to mental health disorder treatments, many options may have side effects, but the risk is often worth the reward.

TMS therapy can benefit many people struggling with a mental health condition, especially depression, or major depressive disorder, though there are potential side effects. If you’re concerned about possible issues after TMS sessions, we’re here to alleviate your fears so that you can focus on how TMS therapy can move you along your mental health journey.

Read on to learn about TMS therapy and its few side effects. We’ll also let you know what to do if you experience them as well as compare side effects of TMS therapy to other treatment options.

The basics of TMS therapy

TMS therapy refers to transcranial magnetic stimulation, a noninvasive and non-medication mental disorder treatment option. It delivers pulses of magnetic energy to stimulate cell activity in areas of the brain that affect mood and emotion.

It’s often recommended as an option for treatment-resistant disorders. Mental health disorder symptoms are labeled as treatment resistant if they don’t provide relief after at least two rounds of antidepressants.

TMS therapy is used to treat:

  • Treatment-resistant depression.
  • Anxious depression.
  • Treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder.

TMS therapy doesn’t require anesthesia, so patients can easily resume their daily activities following their sessions. They can also drive themselves to and from appointments without assistance.

TMS therapy side effects

Like every type of treatment option, there are a few potential side effects that can stem from TMS therapy. The good news is that the symptoms are relatively minimal and tend to fade quickly. But it’s important to know what you may experience during or after your TMS therapy sessions so that you aren’t concerned if they occur.

TMS therapy side effects include:

  • Mild headaches.
  • Mild discomfort around the treatment site. Or tingling or contracting facial, scalp, and jaw muscles. These side effects end after the last pulse is delivered during the treatment session.

There has been no evidence of TMS therapy causing sleep disruptions or cognitive issues, such as memory loss.

What to do if you feel TMS therapy side effects

Even though side effects don’t always occur after a TMS therapy session, it’s important to know what to do if they develop. The first step is to let your technician know about the effects so that they can determine what adjustments need to be made to prevent them from recurring in your future sessions, such as reducing stimulation. 

Over-the-counter medications may be recommended before sessions for individuals who have experienced mild headaches

How TMS therapy side effects compare to other treatments

When it comes to treatment options for mental health disorders like major depressive disorder, you can’t completely eliminate the possibility of side effects. But TMS therapy has fewer and far less severe side effects compared to antidepressants and ECT, which is why it’s often recommended as a safe and effective option.

TMS is sometimes confused with ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, which is another type of neurostimulation therapy. ECT involves using electric shocks to trigger seizures in an attempt to change the structure of the brain’s neural activity. Common side effects include disorientation and memory loss. ECT also has a longer healing process.

Antidepressants are one of the first courses of action for depression treatment, and they are able to be taken along with TMS therapy. But when it comes to individual treatment, there are many more side effects of antidepressants compared to TMS, including:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Fatigue.
  • Gastrointestinal distress. 
  • Insomnia.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight gain.

Active Path Mental Health can see what depression treatments are right for you

Side effects can’t always be avoided, but knowing about them before starting a treatment option like TMS therapy can alleviate some of your nerves. At Active Path, we make sure that you know about the potential side effects and ensure that the proper adjustments are made to your therapy to minimize any lingering negative effects.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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