What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment option for certain mental health conditions that uses a magnetic field to stimulate specific areas of the brain. TMS Therapy is not to be confused with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), commonly referred to as “shock therapy.” Let’s explore how TMS works, the mental health conditions it is approved to treat, the potential benefits and risks of TMS, and what to expect during a TMS treatment. We will also discuss alternative treatment options.

Is TMS Right For Me?

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How TMS Works

TMS uses a magnetic field to stimulate specific areas of the brain. After placing a coil directly above the patient’s head, a magnetic field is generated to stimulate the neurons in the targeted brain region. This process is non-invasive, painless, and highly localized, so it doesn’t affect the entire body system like oral medications and has few short-term side effects. There are no known long term side effects. Some soreness at the treatment site is the most common side effect, which usually subsides within a few hours. TMS consists of 30-36 treatment sessions, five days per week, over 6-7 weeks, each lasting about 3-20 minutes. Relief can be achieved around 70% of the time.

Indications for TMS Therapy

TMS is currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults who have not responded to at least one prior antidepressant medication and for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in adults. TMS Therapy for anxiety is also an option, as is TMS for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order for treatment to be covered by insurance, there are different requirements and prerequisites depending upon the carrier.

Benefits of TMS Therapy

TMS’s main benefits are that it is a safe, non-invasive treatment option, does not require medication, typically has no significant side effects, and has a high success rate of around 70%. TMS has a unique mechanism of action so it can work when other treatments have failed, helping people cope with depression, OCD, and other mental health disorders. Some people may experience mild to moderate discomfort during treatment, but this generally resolves immediately afterward.

Risks and Precautions

While TMS is generally considered a safe treatment option, there are some potential risks and precautions to consider. The most serious potential risk is the possibility of a seizure, which occurs in approximately 0.004% of people who receive TMS. The chance of this occurring is further diminished when patients disclose any significant changes to medication, substances, or other lifestyle changes made during the course of treatment with their technician, who can adjust their dose to account for such changes. Other possible side effects may include scalp discomfort, headache, and lightheadedness. Before starting treatment, you will discuss TMS’s potential risks and benefits with your KCLA Provider.

The TMS Process

If you and your KCLA Provider determine that TMS Therapy is an appropriate treatment option, you can expect to undergo a series of 30-36 treatment sessions. These sessions typically last anywhere from 3-20 minutes. Most patients opt for theta-burst, a 3-minute treatment session with more constant stimulation, than a longer 20-minute session with less frequent stimulation. This saves significant time over the course of treatment and produces the same therapeutic benefit. Our state-of-the-art facility provides treatments in a comfortable, beautiful space accompanied by light refreshments and a large 4k smart TV. During the treatment, your KCLA TMS Technician will gently position the TMS coil directly above your head while you sit in a comfortable recliner. You will be awake and alert during the treatment and able to communicate with the TMS Technician the entire time.

An accelerated protocol of 10 treatments over the course of 10 hours per day for five consecutive days has been established by Stanford University as the “Saint Protocol”. This accelerated treatment course has been proven highly effective, producing much more rapid results than conventional TMS treatment programs. The Saint Protocol is considered an off-label use for TMS and therefore is not currently covered by insurance.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Cost

KCLA now accepts some insurance. If you would like to use insurance to pay for treatment, each insurance network has policies on what criteria warrant coverage of your treatment. It is common for them to require that two or more conventional medications and classes of drugs have not benefited you before authorizing TMS Therapy. Most also require patients to engage in talk therapy first. Your carrier and the type of policy you have will impact your eligibility and out-of-pocket costs. Your KCLA Care Team will walk you through each step of the process with transparency so you can make an informed decision about whether TMS treatment is right for you.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatment options for mental health conditions are available, including Ketamine Infusion Therapy, oral medications, talk therapy, and Spravato. Working with your KCLA Provider to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment plan for your specific needs and goals is essential. TMS Therapy may be suitable for some people but may not be right for everyone.

TMS Therapy Near You

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment option for certain mental health conditions that uses a magnetic field to stimulate specific areas of the brain. It is FDA-approved for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and is rapidly gaining FDA approval for other conditions. TMS Therapy can provide significant benefits for some people. Before starting treatment, the prospective patient will discuss all potential risks and benefits with their KCLA Provider. Alternative treatment options, such as Ketamine Infusion Therapy, medication, Spravato, and talk therapy, are also available.

To obtain further details on how TMS works or to learn about how to initiate the process, please call us now. You may also complete the contact form on this page.

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