All About TMS

Answer: TMS, which stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a revolutionary non-invasive, non-drug treatment for depression and OCD approved by the FDA since 2008 that involves stimulating the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain known to regulate mood using an insulated coil that is placed on your scalp. The coil generates pulses of the same nature as those generated by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines. These short, painless pulses are rapidly delivered from the coil through your skull and into the brain. Using TMS to stimulate this particular region of the brain has proved to produce long lasting changes in brain activity. Moreover, TMS has proved to safely and effectively treat depression in patients who have not seen success with medications such as antidepressants.
Before undergoing TMS treatment, you must receive a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation to determine if TMS would be appropriate for you. Please contact us and psychiatric evaluation and consultation. If approved for TMS, one will typically undergo a series of 30-36 treatments over the course of 5 to 7 weeks, working out to approximately 5 treatments per week. However, the treatment plan will depend on the needs and characteristics of each patient. Each TMS treatment lasts around 20 minutes, with the initial treatment lasting up 45 minutes due to the additional steps detailed below. Before the initial treatment, the patient will be seated in a comfortable reclining chair and a psychiatrist will first comfortably fit the coils on the patient's head and place them on the appropriate location of the skull. They will then perform a test to properly detect the patient's motor threshold, which is the level of magnetic field strength that results in movement of the patient's right thumb. Based on this motor threshold, the psychiatrist will calibrate the machine to deliver the correct strength of the magnetic pulses.To begin the treatment, the TMS machine will deliver magnetic pulses via the coil to the targeted area of the brain in rapid succession over the course of 30 second intervals. As these pulses will sound like rapid tapping on the skull, the patient can use their own non-metal headphones to listen to music or use provided ear plugs to reduce noise. The treatment should be painless for the patient. If there is any discomfort during the treatment, the physician can make adjustments.
The most common side effect seen from TMS treatment is mild scalp discomfort. Other possible side effects are minor twitching of facial muscles, minor twitching around the eye, mild toothache, and mild headache. However, if one or more of these side effects does occur, it is typically only present during the duration of the treatment and resolves by the end of the treatment session. The side effects of TMS treatment are minimal compared to the various possible side effects from antidepressant drugs.