Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
The brain is an electrical organ, and functions via electric signals that become chemical signals called neurotransmitters. When neurotransmitter levels are imbalanced, conditions like depression and anxiety can result. TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) is a safe, non-invasive therapy for depression and anxiety that uses powerful magnets to produce positive therapeutic changes in the brain. Patients quickly report better mood, sleep, and energy without medication side-effects!
TMS has been studied in academic circles for decades, but received FDA approval in October 2008 for patients with Major Depression who failed to improve from antidepressant medication. TMS is an important option to consider when medications have failed, when patients cannot tolerate medication side-effects, or when patients want treatment without having to depend on medication. TMS can also be added to medication treatment to boost response.
We are the most affordable TMS clinic in the Bay Area. We are offering a TMS summer special at $100 per session. Many clinics charge up to $500-$600 per session for the same treatment! We also offer the HELP Card* to help families afford treatment. The human cost of continued suffering and disability can be incalculable. Get help for your depressions today, by calling us at 925-846-8000.
How does TMS Work?
Coils are placed near the skull that generate a strong magnetic field, similar to the ones during an MRI, that secondarily induce a weak electric current in the brain. This causes an increase or decrease in the activity of that part of the brain, depending on the type of stimulation that is needed. For example, depressed patients often need to have certain areas of their brains woken up, while anxious patients often need parts of their brains to be calmed down.
TMS has been FDA-approved for the treatment of non-psychotic adults with unipolar major depression who have failed one adequate antidepressant trial in the current episode. TMS has been found to have many beneficial effects. The treatment protocol is individualized for each patient, and can be altered depending on the area of the brain that is being stimulated, the frequency, number, and intensity of the magnetic pulses that are delivered, the length of the treatment session, and the total number of sessions.
Can TMS be used for conditions other than Anxiety and Depression?
The results of published research and many TMS clinical trials have also shown improvement in patients suffering from other disorders as well, including: bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, autism, seizure disorders, traumatic brain injury, Tourette’s, OCD, PTSD, Tinnitus, migraine, chronic pain, psychoses, substance abuse, and more. Because this treatment is relatively new, the final optimal protocols for treating many brain conditions are still being determined, but there is published research to guide current protocols for many conditions. New protocols are being developed and published all the time, and the use of TMS has been called the dawn of a new era in psychiatry.
What is TMS treatment like?
The procedure is administered by placing a special coil over the head while the patient remains seated in a comfortable chair wearing earplugs. The patient is fully awake and conscious during the entire time and can relax, watch TV, or listen to music. No anesthesia or sedation is required, and it is generally comfortable once the patient is used to the tapping sensation. Each session lasts approximately 30-40 minutes, and is generally administered daily, 5 days per week for 4-8 weeks. During treatment the patient is monitored continuously by trained staff to ensure correct coil positioning and patient comfort level. There are no restrictions on work or other activity before or after the treatment. Because no medications are administered, there are no systemic side-effects or cognitive after-effects such as memory difficulty or inability to concentrate, therefore patients can return immediately to their regular activities, including driving, immediately after their treatment session!
Side-Effects of TMS
TMS is very safe and much less invasive alternative than other brain stimulation procedures, and is generally very well tolerated. However, there are potential risks associated with any type of treatment. Most patients undergo TMS with no major side-effects. However, the most common side-effect of TMS is mild headache or discomfort at the treatment site, which is easily remedied by over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol or Motrin, and usually subsides quickly.
The rarest side-effect from TMS is a possible seizure. Statistically, seizures only occurred in .003% of treatments (about 1 in 30,000) or in .1% of patients (about 1 in 1000 patients). These very rare treatment-induced seizures were very short-lived, the patients recovered quickly and had no lasting negative consequences, and in retrospect, most were found to have been caused by preventable issues. It is important to remember that even psychiatric medications increase the risk of seizures, seizures can happen spontaneously, illnesses and injuries that affect the brain can increase seizure risk, and there is no treatment that is 100% risk free. Our staff is trained on what to do in the rare event that a patient experiences a seizure.
Benefits of TMS Treatment
One of the benefits of doing TMS is that it is not associated with the common side-effects of psychiatric medications, such as weight gain, sedation, sexual problems, dry mouth, and emotional numbing. Also, there is no memory loss or cognitive dysfunction with TMS, which is a problem with other treatments that are more invasive. As a matter of fact, TMS can be used to enhance cognitive functioning! Patients are usually treated to full depression remission, not just symptom improvement. The TMS stimulation seems to train the brain on how to function better by itself, so treatment response is often maintained after active treatment ends. However, some patients who are particularly prone to relapse may need some periodic “tune-up” treatments to maintain response.
TMS – An Effective Treatment
There are numerous studies that show the effectiveness of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy not only during the usual 4-8 week treatment phase, but also into the long term. TMS therapy has been shown to be very effective even for people who previously attempted to treat their depression by traditional means such as medications and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). TMS can be used alone, or can complement any other treatment currently being used.
Special Precautions in TMS
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) should not be used for patients with implanted metallic devices that include metal plates in the skull or aneurysm coils, clips or stents. All jewelry and removable items such as reading glasses must be removed from the face and head area prior to treatment. Special precautions are recommended for individuals with implants such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators.
Insurance Coverage for TMS
While the benefits of TMS treatments for a variety of neurological conditions are well documented, health insurance companies do not always cover the cost of treatment. Most insurance companies require an appeal process to cover TMS, and even then they will only cover it for the one FDA-approved indication – adult patients with depression who have not benefited from one prior antidepressant medication. We can help provide patients with the information that they need to qualify for reimbursement, but insurance coverage is often not authorized. Patients should contact their insurance companies to determine coverage issues.
Cost for TMS Treatment
We are the most affordable TMS clinic in the Bay Area. We are offering a TMS special at $100 per session. Many clinics charge up to $500-$600 per session for the same treatment! We also offer the HELP card* to help families afford the cost of treatment. The human cost of continued suffering and disability can be incalculable. Get help for your depressions today!