Frequently Asked Questions
Common Questions about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
What is TMS?
TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a treatment that uses electromagnetic energy to stimulate cells in the brain to treat depression and other disorders.
How does TMS work?
At our TMS clinic, patients are treated by a team of highly trained psychiatrists, registered nurses, and clinical technicians. During a TMS treatment session, the patient sits in a chair with the device resting against their head. The device creates electromagnetic energy that is aimed at a specific area of the brain. Activating the brain cells under the device encourages a release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which helps to regulate mood. Each appointment lasts approximately 20 minutes.
Does TMS really work for depression?
TMS was FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder in 2008. Data shows that most people who try TMS treatment for depression (more than 50%) experience significant improvement.
How long does it take for TMS to start working?
TMS treatment time varies from person to person. Treatment is generally 4-6 weeks of daily (M-F) treatment to achieve maximum potential benefit. Once daily treatments are complete, a period of taper down in the frequency of treatments may be recommended for some patients.
What are the side effects of TMS?
TMS side effects are often minimal and temporary, resolving within the first week of treatment. Possible side effects of TMS include:
- Mild scalp pain
- Painless muscle twitching
- Eye, face, or tooth discomfort
When shouldn’t TMS treatment be used?
TMS therapy is not recommended for patients with:
- Implants controlled by physiological signals, such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), and vagus nerve stimulators (VNS)
- Non-removable, conductive metal in or near the head
- Seizure disorders
- Brain abnormalities such as recent concussion, stroke, or mass in the brain