UnityPoint Clinic Mental Health | TMS

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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive, non-drug program for adult patients who have experienced unsatisfactory results or intolerable side effects following traditional medication and therapy for treatment resistant major depressive disorder. It should be considered a treatment and not a cure for depression.

rTMS features a small instrument placed directly on the head. Key underactive segments of the brain are precisely targeted by magnetic pulses. The stimulation has been shown to increase the amount of activity in the area associated with improved mood.

What is a session like?

A typical rTMS session lasts less than an hour. The magnetic pulses are administered at a frequency of 10 pulses per second for four seconds, followed by a 26-second break. The cycle is repeated 75 times for a total of 3,000 pulses.

Individuals may read a book, use a tablet or laptop or simply relax during the treatment.

How many treatments take place?

The program consists of daily treatment Monday through Friday for 4-6 weeks.

Are there side effects?

There is a low occurrence of side effects with rTMS when compared to other forms of treatment or medications. Some individuals experience slight discomfort in the stimulation area including headaches following initial treatments. This can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication.

What is recovery time?

Individuals can go about their day as usual before and after treatments. It does not require anesthesia or sedation, and there are no known cognitive side effects of rTMS.

Is it covered by insurance?

Some insurance providers cover rTMS while some do not. Please contact your carrier for specific coverage details. A psychiatrist evaluation is required before beginning an rTMS program.

Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation work?

According to a recent study, after one year of follow up, 68% of patients experienced symptom reduction while 45% of patients had complete remission.

Treatment response with rTMS may not be realized until weeks or months after treatment.

Effects are shown to be long-lasting, but duration varies widely from person to person. Individuals often experience a reemergence of symptoms after some time, but those who initially responded to rTMS treatments are likely to experience similar symptom reduction again through fewer treatments.