Frequently Asked Questions
- What is TMS?
TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation, a non-invasive therapeutic treatment for depression, anxiety, and migraines using electromagnetic currents targeted to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the mood regulation center.
- So How Does TMS Work?
While seated comfortably in a chair, a helmet containing a coil is placed on the patient’s head. Short, repetitive electromagnetic pulses are then delivered to the brain, resulting in a balancing out or resetting of the neurotransmitters that have been inactive, causing the depressive symptoms.
- Does it hurt or are there any side effects?
For some patients there are mild discomforts, such as headache, toothache, or scalp irritation, which diminishes after the treatment.
- How can I tell if I’m depressed?
There are distinct criteria for diagnosing depression, listed on the Depression tab on this site. After reviewing those symptoms, if you have concerns about possibly having depression, contact your physician to discuss a treatment plan.
- Is TMS better than antidepressants?
Antidepressants have been found to be effective in symptom relief in only about 50% of patients diagnosed with depression. Because these drugs are systemic—ingested and processed in the body—there are several unpleasant side effects that may accompany these medications, including weight gain, insomnia, irritability, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, and headache. TMS directly treats the region in the brain associated with mood control, making it an efficient and safe treatment option.
- Will TMS affect my current medications?
Patients may continue to take their prescribed antidepressants during TMS treatment, unless their side effects from the drugs are inhibitive. After the TMS treatment regimen is complete, patients can meet with their physician or one of the doctors at Achieve TMS to decide whether or not to continue taking medication.
- Is it safe?
Yes. TMS was approved for use by the FDA in 2008 as a safe and non-invasive treatment for depression, and in 2015 for migraine treatment.
- Who benefits most from TMS?
TMS is most beneficial for those individuals who have tried antidepressant medications but were unsuccessful in achieving relief from depression symptoms. TMS also benefits those who experienced unpleasant side effects from those medications.
- How long does treatment take?
Treatment sessions last anywhere from 20-30 minutes and are prescribed five days a week for 4-6 weeks for optimal results.
- Is TMS used to treat anything besides depression?
Although it is not FDA-cleared here in the U.S., it is common for anxiety to be treated along with depression, and TMS is also approved to treat migraines. In Europe, TMS has been CE approved to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, adult autism, chronic pain, smoking cessation, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Is TMS better than Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?
Both ECT and TMS have been successful in treating depression. However, ECT requires sedation, and the electroshocks can cause memory loss and confusion, whereas TMS uses no sedation and safe, noninvasive magnetic pulses.
- Does insurance cover TMS treatment?
Most insurance companies cover TMS treatments. There are criteria that must be met to meet the threshold for insurance coverage, and our staff is happy to check your insurance eligibility for you. Click here for a list of insurance companies currently working with Achieve TMS. If you don’t see your plan listed, please call and ask us about yours today.