Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), also called “TMS ruined my life,” is a type of therapy that has taken the medical and mental health fields by storm. It has been shown to help with many different mental health problems, like depression and worry. In this piece, I’ll talk about my own experience with TMS and how it has changed my life in a big way.
Many people have had similar situations with TMS as I have. I hope that by telling my story and thinking about how TMS has changed my life, I can encourage other people who are having trouble with their mental health to try TMS.
What is TMS?
TMS is a treatment for depression and, more lately, anxiety that doesn’t hurt you. A magnetic coil is used in the process to increase activity in certain parts of the brain, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
TMS is an option for electroconvulsive therapy. It works by sending repeated magnetic pulses to the brain. So, it is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) that is repeated.
Even though serious depression and generalized anxiety disorder can be treated, common treatments like antidepressants don’t work for everyone. rTMS is used when other treatments, like drugs and counseling, don’t work.
How Does it work?
During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is put over the patient’s head. This transmits alternate magnetic pulses to the brain to boost activity in areas involved with mood and depression.
TMS therapy is performed as an outpatient procedure because it is non-invasive. Patients are awake throughout and can resume their normal activities after the sessions.
It is usually performed in the office or clinic of a medical expert. A course of treatment lasts four to six weeks, with each session lasting approximately 40 minutes. If rTMS works for you, your depression symptoms will lessen or disappear entirely.
Is TMS Therapy Safe?
TMS therapy is frequently misunderstood as a medieval treatment, yet this could not be further from reality. TMS therapy is not only non-invasive and painless, but it is also considered a safe and effective treatment for depression. Because there are hazards for those who have metal in or around their skulls, this type of therapy is not suitable for everyone suffering from treatment-resistant depression. Metals that may prevent someone from receiving TMS therapy include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Shrapnel or bullet pieces
- Implants for the ears
- Aneurysm clips
- Metal stents
- Tattoos with magnetic ink or writing that is sensitive to magnets
- Any kind of medical implant made of metal
It is very important to be open and honest with a TMS provider because leaving out medical information like this could have life-threatening effects. Most of the time, though, people with pacemakers can get TMS treatments as long as they don’t have metal in or around their heads.
How TMS Ruined My Life?
It’s important to acknowledge that individual experiences with any treatment can vary, and some individuals may have had unfortunate outcomes. If you believe that TMS therapy has had a detrimental effect on your life, it is crucial to seek professional help and support. By sharing your concerns with a healthcare professional or the provider who administered the treatment, you can discuss your specific situation, express your feelings, and explore potential solutions or alternative treatment options.
It’s important to remember that there are various approaches available for mental health treatment, and finding the right path to recovery may involve trying different strategies. Remember that seeking assistance and support is a valuable step towards regaining control and improving your well-being.
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Side Effects of TMS
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is usually thought to be safe and well-tolerated, but there are some side effects that some people may experience. Here are some common TMS treatment side effects:
- Scalp Discomfort: During TMS therapy, some individuals may experience mild scalp discomfort or a tapping sensation in the treatment area. This sensation is generally temporary and subsides after each session.
- Headache: Headaches are among the most commonly reported side effects of TMS therapy. These headaches are usually mild to moderate in intensity and typically occur shortly after the treatment. They tend to improve over time as the body adjusts to the therapy.
- Muscle Twitching: In some cases, TMS therapy may cause muscle twitching or spasms, particularly in the facial muscles. This side effect is usually transient and resolves quickly after the session.
- Lightheadedness: Occasionally, individuals may experience feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness during or immediately after the TMS treatment. This sensation is typically short-lived and resolves without intervention.
- Tingling Sensation: Some patients may experience a tingling or prickling sensation in the scalp or other parts of the body during TMS therapy. This is a normal response to magnetic stimulation and is not considered harmful.
- Hearing Changes: TMS therapy involves the use of loud clicking sounds produced by the magnetic coil. While earplugs are typically provided to minimize discomfort, some individuals may still experience temporary hearing changes such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or hearing loss immediately after the treatment. These changes are usually transient and resolve quickly.
- Seizures (Rare): Although rare, seizures are a potential risk associated with TMS therapy. However, strict safety guidelines and protocols are in place to minimize this risk. TMS therapy is carefully administered by trained professionals who monitor patients closely and ensure appropriate safety measures are followed.
Long-Term Negative Effects
Some alternative mental health methods may have long-term effects that are not good. For example, after TMS treatment, some people have problems with their memory and ability to think, and their depression and anxiousness get worse.
When it comes to psychedelics, some people who take them may have:
- Depersonalization is when you feel like you’re not yourself.
- Derealization is when you feel disconnected from your surroundings.
- Hallucinogen persistent perception disorder (HPPD), or disturbing changes in perception that last after the trip is over
However, it should be noted that HPPD appears to be uncommon and has not been found in clinical trials of psychedelic therapy. Other long-term negative effects appear to be uncommon in clinical investigations.
Nonetheless, several individuals who participated in MDMA therapy research have spoken out about their mental health deteriorating after treatment.
Who Cannot Get TMS Therapy?
Though the unpleasantness of TMS therapy may put some people off, the treatment is safe for practically everyone. Some people are advised not to seek treatment and may not receive approval from a medical specialist. These are some examples:
- Individuals who have metal implants or plates
- Patients who have a known seizure risk
- Anyone who has a magnetic-sensitive tattoo
- Patients who have neck/brain stents
- Those who have aneurysm clips
- Anyone who has shrapnel or gunshot pieces close to their head
How Does TMS Help with Depression?
Magnetic pulses cause tiny electric currents to flow through neurons, changing faulty brain processes associated with depression.
TMS stimulates specific regions of the brain to alleviate symptoms and break the cycle of depression.
Benefits of The TMS Therapy
- Non-Invasive Procedure: One of the primary benefits of TMS therapy is that it is a non-invasive procedure, which means it does not require any surgical intervention. Unlike other treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), TMS therapy does not involve anesthesia or electrical shocks to the brain, making it a safer and more comfortable option for patients.
- FDA Approved: TMS therapy is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This approval signifies that TMS therapy has undergone rigorous testing and has been proven to be both safe and effective for these specific conditions.
- Targeted Treatment: TMS therapy specifically targets the areas of the brain that are responsible for regulating mood and emotions. By using magnetic fields to stimulate these targeted regions, TMS therapy can help rebalance the brain’s neural activity, leading to improvements in symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
- Non-Systemic Treatment: Unlike medication-based approaches, TMS therapy does not involve the introduction of drugs into the bloodstream. This non-systemic nature of TMS therapy means that it avoids many of the side effects commonly associated with medications, such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and gastrointestinal issues.
- High Success Rate: TMS therapy has shown a high success rate in treating individuals with treatment-resistant depression, meaning those who have not responded adequately to traditional antidepressant medications. Studies have demonstrated significant improvements in depressive symptoms, including mood, energy levels, and overall quality of life, following a course of TMS therapy.
How Much Does TMS Therapy Cost?
A single course of TMS can cost between $6,000 and $12,000. Depending on your medical history, your health insurance provider may offer you coverage. Prior to receiving TMS coverage, you may be required to attempt at least four antidepressants.
Alternatively, they may give coverage if you have adverse responses to antidepressants.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was introduced in 1985, reigniting interest in the use of brain stimulation methods for the treatment of psychiatric diseases. TMS allows the doctor to noninvasively and painlessly stimulate specific parts of the brain. TMS has been widely examined for its usefulness in the treatment of depression, allowing it to be considered the gold standard therapy for pharmacologically resistant depression due to the positive outcomes reported in patients.
Psychiatric populations believe that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) therapy for mental health issues is useful, safe, and no more risky than traditional therapy choices such as medication.
Although this treatment has shown promising results for many patients in recent years, more research is needed to establish efficacy, safety, economics, and education revolving around rTMS due to the treatment’s recent development.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can TMS cause permanent damage?
Is TMS Harmful to Your Brain? Many individuals are concerned about whether TMS will have any negative consequences on the brain. Long-term exposure can be frightening, but numerous clinical trials have demonstrated no detrimental long-term consequences from TMS. There is no indication that TMS can cause brain tumors, memory loss, or attention problems.
Does TMS work permanently?
About one-third of these people have a full recovery, which means that all of their symptoms go away. Even though these results are good, it’s important to remember that they won’t last forever. There is a high risk of relapse, just like with most other treatments for mood disorders.
Can I do TMS every year?
The truth is that it depends on the person getting the treatment. A year after treatment, many of my patients are still in recovery, but some need maintenance treatments before then. Insurance will pay for these upkeep treatments.
Does TMS work for everyone?
TMS might not help everyone. If clinical symptoms of depression are not handled well, there is a chance that they will get worse. Some people, especially those who already have bipolar disorder or extreme anxiety, can get too much stimulation from TMS, which can make their anxiety, panic, or insomnia worse.
Is TMS good for your brain?
Neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are thought to be released when these electrical currents turn on cells in the brain. Since it is thought that an imbalance of these chemicals in the brain causes sadness, TMS can fix the imbalance and get rid of depression.
Who benefits from TMS treatment?
TMS can help people with depression and other problems like general anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) who don’t get better with medicine or behavioral therapy.
How long is TMS treatment?
This is reflected in BrainsWay’s Deep TMS treatment for depression, which usually has an intense phase of four weeks with five sessions a week, followed by a continuation phase of eight to twelve weeks with two sessions a week.
Does TMS make you happy?
TMS might help you feel better, but it’s not a “happiness” technique. Some people do feel better after TMS therapy, but the main goal of the treatment is to help people with mental health problems like depression and anxiety feel better.
TMS aims to improve functionality and lessen symptoms associated with these disorders, which can lead to a greater sense of contentment and enjoyment. Finally, how TMS impacts your mood is determined on the individual and the mental health issue being treated.
What is the disadvantage of TMS?
One of the worst things about TMS is that it can be expensive and take a lot of time. Sessions of treatment usually last about 30 minutes, and you may need more than one over a period of weeks or months to get the benefits you want.
Also, insurance companies might not pay for TMS treatment, so you might have to pay for it yourself. Some other possible side effects include headaches, a sore hair, and feeling dizzy. Before starting a TMS treatment plan, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any possible risks.