What is TMS therapy & what can it treat?

While therapy is the most effective treatment option for mental illnesses, it’s important to remember that there are quite a few treatment methods to choose from. Your mental health provider may have several recommendations for the best treatment approach for your mental disorder. One possible method is transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS therapy.

Read on to learn about the ins and outs of the procedure, from the mental illnesses that it can treat to the possible side effects that can stem from the procedure.

The basics of TMS therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, sometimes referred to as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), is a noninvasive brain stimulation therapy. It uses repetitive electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the parts of your brain that control your moods, making it an effective treatment option for mental illnesses.

The treatment is often used if antidepressants aren’t working, or if they cause too many negative side effects. It’s also a common treatment method for children and teenagers in order to start treating mental conditions early. This may decrease the likelihood of needing long-term medication.

The sessions can last between 30 minutes to an hour. Your mental health provider will determine how long you should receive the therapy depending on the condition it’s treating as well as how your body reacts to the pulses. People often have the procedure five days a week, for four to six weeks.

What does TMS therapy treat?

TMS can treat a variety of mental health disorders, but it’s been shown to work best for people living with major depressive disorder50% to 60% of people who have tried TMS as part of their depression treatment have reported a positive response to the procedure.

Besides depression, people with a variety of mental and physical conditions have benefited from the therapy, including those living with:

4 benefits of TMS therapy

There are quite a few benefits of TMS that can help people progress on their mental health journey.

Here are four reasons why the treatment is a great option for mental illness treatment: 

  • Long-term results — While 58% of clients have shown improvement after TMS, 37% of clients actually had a complete recovery from their mental illness following the treatment.
  • Reduced need for medication — Individuals may try TMS if their medication isn’t effective enough, which can then reduce the need for medication in the future. 
  • Noninvasive — Many people are scared of procedures because they often worry that something will go wrong internally while they are under anesthesia. But TMS therapy does not require anesthesia and is noninvasive, so there are no incisions that need to be made. It also means that you don’t require any downtime afterward and can drive yourself home to continue your daily routine and responsibilities.
  • Few side effects — Just like any type of procedure, TMS therapy can have possible side effects. However, there are fewer potential side effects than many antidepressants or other mental health condition medications. Plus, the TMS side effects tend to be less severe and have a shorter time span than those that stem from medication.

Potential side effects of TMS therapy

Though they aren’t common, there are a few possible TMS side effects that you should be aware of.

People who have the procedure may experience:

  • Mild headaches
  • Scalp and/or neck pain
  • Facial twitching
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness

Mild side effects will usually fade as the treatments continue.

You shouldn’t have TMS therapy if you:

  • Have epilepsy or a history of seizures
  • Take stimulants
  • Have a condition that increases the chance of seizures
  • Have metal in your head, such as permanent piercings, metal plates and shrapnel

Lightfully Behavioral Health can refer for TMS therapy while clients are in treatment with us

TMS therapy can benefit people with a variety of mental health disorders, especially those living with depression. If you want to incorporate the procedure into your treatment, then let us fit it into your personalized treatment plan. 

We offer four programs at our mental health treatment centers to assist you with your mental health journey: residential treatment, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also called our Day Treatment Program. 

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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