Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

For individuals with depression and substance use disorders who are not responding to medications or other commonly used treatments, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be a new option to consider. 

TMS is a noninvasive procedure that incorporates short magnetic pulses to stimulate a specific location in the brain known to be associated with depression, usually the prefrontal cortex, an area that is partially responsible for mood regulation. The induction of electrical currents occurs from a treatment coil that influences neuron activity. As a result, neuroplasticity can occur, leading to the generation and modification of neural pathways. TMS is safe and FDA-approved for treating depression and is operated by a trained TMS technician.

What are the benefits of TMS?

Benefits begin to arise at around three weeks of treatment. Common benefits include long-lasting relief from depression, improved sleep and anxiety, mood elevation, improved cognition, and a regained interest in activities.

Although these positive outcomes occur, patients are encouraged to participate in productive activities to get the best out of TMS, including efforts like therapy, good nutrition, exercise, meditation, and active socialization.

What happens during TMS?

TMS therapy requires multiple sessions to be effective, usually five days a week for six weeks with each treatment being three to thirty minutes long. Throughout the procedure, patients will feel a tapping sensation on their scalp and a sequence of clicking sounds.

What are the side-effects of TMS?

Patients may experience some side-effects during or after treatment. Scalp discomfort or mild headache is the most common side-effect, while other individuals may undergo involuntary facial muscle twitching or eye blinking during the procedure which disappears if frequency is adjusted. However, these side-effects subside as treatment continues.

Serious, but very rare side-effects are seizures, hearing loss, or passing out. TMS may not be a suitable treatment for individuals predisposed to seizures but not contraindicated.