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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a type of treatment for depression, or major depressive disorder. It’s recommended for individuals with treatment-resistant depression, which refers to depression that has not responded to two trials of antidepressants. TMS is often compared with electroconvulsive therapy, but the two are very different. Electroconvulsive therapy involves electrical currents being sent through the brain. ECT causes controlled seizures, which can lead to jaw pain, head pain, muscle contractions and hearing damage. TMS is a much gentler alternative. It offers many of the same benefits but without the undesirable side effects. Are you struggling with treatment-resistant depression? TMS may be the right option for you. Here’s what you need to know about transcranial magnetic stimulation. We’ll cover how TMS works, the side effects and the benefits.

What is TMS therapy? How does it work?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation works through the use of electromagnetic coils placed onto the head. These coils are designed to send pulses of magnetic energy into the nerve cells in your brain. These pulses stimulate the area of the brain involved in mood regulation. Over the course of treatment, this stimulation can result in a decrease in depressive symptoms. TMS is a noninvasive form of treatment; it doesn’t involve going underneath the skin or any type of surgical procedure. 

Is TMS therapy effective?

One of the most common questions asked about TMS therapy is, how effective is it really? TMS can produce meaningful responses, as seen in the following patient outcomes:

  • 79% of patients show a greater than 25% decrease in depression symptoms.
  • 56% of patients experience a 50% decrease in symptoms.
  • 33% of patients no longer experience depression symptoms.

What are the benefits of TMS therapy?

If you’re interested in TMS therapy for treatment-resistant depression, it’s important that you not only understand how it works but that you have a full understanding of the benefits it’s capable of providing:

  • Faster improvement — Patients receiving TMS treatment typically notice improvement around week four but in some cases can experience benefit as early as week one. This greatly contrasts to treatment with medication, which often requires additional time and potential dose adjustments prior to experiencing benefits. 
  • Effects last for six months to more than a year — Another benefit of TMS therapy is that the effects are long lasting. Patients who improve with TMS typically report improvement that lasts at least six months but that can also last a year or longer.
  • Is more gentle than electroconvulsive therapy — Another benefit is that the procedure itself is gentler than alternative therapies, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The side effects of TMS are generally mild and don’t involve the use of sedation during treatment like electroconvulsive therapy does. 

What are the side effects of TMS therapy?

Although the side effects of TMS therapy are much gentler than ECT, they are still worth considering before treatment. Here’s what you need to know about the potential side effects of TMS therapy:

  • May cause temporary scalp discomfort — TMS can cause temporary scalp discomfort during and immediately following a session. This usually wears off within an hour or so after the session.
  • May cause temporary headaches — Headaches are another temporary effect of TMS therapy, but they usually wear off the same day of treatment.
  • May cause muscle twitches — Another side effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is muscle twitching. The muscles around the head may be affected by the magnetic pulses and feel tingly or twitchy. Most patients acclimate to this new sensation within the first few sessions.

Let Active Path Mental Health show you how well TMS therapy can work for treatment-resistant depression

Major depressive disorder can have serious effects on a person’s life. It can hinder your ability to perform daily activities and can lead to poor quality of life. Depression can make even seemingly simple tasks, like brushing your teeth or showering, nearly a challenge to carry out each day. If you have any other questions about how TMS therapy works, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. With the help of TMS therapy, our patients can begin to recover from their symptoms.

Active Path Mental Health has clinics in both Oregon and Washington. Each of our clinic locations exists to help you experience true transformation. Our goal is to help you find freedom from your mental health disorder.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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