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While we all want to move along our mental health journey, it’s not always easy to take the next step. There are so many treatment options to choose from, and they won’t work the same for everyone.

Once you work with your mental health provider to determine which option will work best for you, you may feel unprepared. Even though a treatment option can help reduce the impact of a mental health disorder on your quality of life, it can be intimidating if you don’t know what to expect.

TMS therapy is an alternative therapy treatment that can be used to treat common mental health disorders, such as major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But it’s important that you’re aware of what the therapy involves so that you can be prepared. We’re here to ease some of your confusion and concern revolving around TMS therapy sessions. 

Read on to learn about TMS therapy and what you can expect when you attend a TMS therapy session.

The basics of TMS therapy

TMS therapy refers to the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation. It’s an alternative treatment method for mental health disorders. It’s a non-medication, noninvasive treatment option that involves sending pulses of magnetic energy to targeted areas of the brain.

The pulses can stimulate cell activity in the part of the brain that controls your mood. The stimulation helps to regulate your mood and emotion to decrease the symptoms of mental health disorders, including:

What to expect when you start TMS therapy

Even when you’re looking forward to the positive results of a treatment option like transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, you’ll likely still have questions about what you’ll actually experience during the sessions. We’re here to walk you through the process.

A transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy session is administered in an outpatient facility. It’s led by a specially trained technician while under the supervision of a psychiatrist. 

Your first transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy session is known as a “mapping session.” They will also determine the proper placement of the device and the required strength of the pulses.

The regular sessions that follow the mapping session will involve a magnetic coil being placed on your scalp near your forehead. Magnetic pulses are emitted from the coil to the area and stimulate the brain cell activity. The feeling is often described as a tapping sensation and most patients acclimate to the sensation by the end of the first few sessions. 

It can also be comforting to know about the side effects ahead of time so that you aren’t concerned if one occurs. They tend to be short-term and mild. The side effects can usually be alleviated by reducing the pulse strength or with over-the-counter medication that’s taken before the session.

Side effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy that you may experience include:

  • Headaches.
  • Discomfort at or near the treatment site.
  • Contracting or tingling sensation of scalp, jaw, or facial muscles.

How long is TMS therapy?

Like most treatment options, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy needs to be administered consistently to get the maximum results. It requires a total of 36 treatments that are spread out over the course of six to eight weeks. You’ll receive a 30-minute treatment five times a week, though the first session can last between 45 minutes and an hour. 

Even though a course of transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy lasts six to eight weeks, many patients experience reduced symptoms after about four weeks. It’s important to remember that each patient will respond differently to transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, but 79% of our patients experience at least 25% reduced symptoms after six weeks, and 59% of patients have 50% fewer depression symptoms.

Active Path Mental Health can let you know what to expect before TMS therapy

Jumping into any sort of mental health care treatment can be a bit scary, but being prepared beforehand will help you feel safe and comfortable during transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy sessions. Depression symptoms can start to improve within a few weeks, allowing you to complete your daily activities and maintain healthy relationships with those around you. 

Active Path Mental Health has locations in Oregon and Washington that can help you learn how to take control of your depression and OCD with TMS therapy.
To learn about what to expect from transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, be sure that you contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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