At Prime Behavioral Health, we are dedicated to ensuring that our patients are provided with the most effective treatments available. TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) Therapy has emerged as a breakthrough in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. Like all therapeutic modalities, TMS comes with its own set of advantages and limitations. Below, we delve deeper into the pros and cons of TMS therapy:
What is TMS Therapy?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is an innovative, noninvasive treatment for clinically diagnosed depression. This unique therapy is frequently used with people who’ve tried other depression treatments with no results and those who cannot tolerate depression medications.
TMS therapy is highly effective, but like any form of psychiatric treatment, it has its pros and cons. If you’re considering TMS therapy for yourself or a loved one, understanding the advantages and drawbacks of the treatment will help you make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.
The Pros of TMS Therapy
Although TMS therapy is most commonly used as a depression treatment, it can also be effective for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, smoking cessation, and other mental health conditions. Aside from its wide variety of uses, TMS also offers patients other distinct benefits.
TMS Therapy is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients do not need to be hospitalized. This flexibility allows individuals to undergo treatment sessions and then return to their daily routines immediately after. The non-restrictive nature of the therapy ensures that work, family commitments, and personal time are minimally disrupted. The convenience of outpatient therapy also reduces the stigma associated with inpatient psychiatric treatments.
High Success Rates
Clinical studies have shown that TMS Therapy has a significant success rate, especially for patients who haven’t responded well to traditional treatments like medication. It has been proven effective in treating major depressive disorder, and many patients report a considerable reduction in symptoms after undergoing the therapy. The effectiveness of TMS speaks to its potential as a primary or supplementary treatment option.
No Medications Needed
One of the main appeals of TMS Therapy is that it doesn’t rely on medications. This means patients can avoid the side effects that often come with psychiatric drugs, such as weight gain, drowsiness, or gastrointestinal problems. Furthermore, individuals who might be allergic or resistant to certain medications can consider TMS as a viable alternative.
TMS is a non-invasive procedure. Unlike surgeries or other treatments that require incisions, TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. The absence of sedation, anesthesia, or surgical intervention makes the process safer and reduces the risk of complications.
TMS Is Effective When Other Depression Treatments Don’t Work
Currently, TMS therapy is an FDA-approved treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) in people who haven’t responded to antidepressant medication. In one study, 42 separate clinical practices analyzed the results of TMS treatment on their patients who had MDD. Nearly 60% of patients in the study reported a reduction in depression symptoms, while nearly 40% of study participants experienced full remission.
TMS Therapy Has Very Few Side Effects
Most people tolerate TMS therapy well. The treatment has a low risk of side effects, with the most common adverse reactions being scalp discomfort and a transient headache after treatment.
In contrast, depression medications can cause numerous side effects, including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, constipation, nausea, and others. People who take these medications and experience side effects often have a difficult time with medication compliance and, therefore, symptom improvement.
TMS Requires No Downtime
Unlike certain depression treatments, TMS therapy doesn’t involve any medications that may make a person drowsy. Patients can safely drive themselves to and from their appointments and can return to their daily routine after treatment.
While the therapy does involve a time commitment over several weeks, TMS can fit into almost anyone’s schedule, even with daily treatment sessions.
TMS Therapy Is Typically Covered by Insurance
Most insurance companies recognize TMS therapy as an essential form of care for people who do not respond to other depression treatments. As such, most insurance policies will cover TMS treatments, provided the patient meets the conditions set forth by their specific insurance plan.
Cons of TMS Therapy:
While TMS therapy can be a lifeline for people with treatment-resistant depression, it’s not right for everyone. The therapy isn’t recommended for some people, and others have trouble meeting their insurance company’s criteria for coverage. Here are some of the disadvantages of TMS therapy.
A typical TMS session can last anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, with patients usually undergoing treatment five days a week for four to six weeks. This time commitment can be challenging for some, especially those with busy schedules or those traveling from distant areas.
While TMS is gaining recognition, it’s not as widely available as traditional treatments. Finding a nearby clinic or hospital that offers TMS can be a challenge, particularly in more remote areas.
Some patients report feeling a tapping sensation on the scalp during treatment sessions. While this is usually mild, it can lead to discomfort for some. Over time, however, many patients become accustomed to the sensation.
Insurance Criteria Can Be Strict
Although most insurance companies cover TMS therapy, they require patients to try antidepressant medication first. Since TMS costs more than medications, insurance plans don’t typically authorize payment for the therapy as a first-line treatment for depression.
Each insurance company has different criteria for TMS coverage, and some may require patients to try some form of talk therapy as well. At Prime Behavioral Health, we’ll help you determine whether you’ve met your plan’s criteria if you’re interested in TMS treatments.
Low Risk of Seizures
While TMS is generally considered safe, there’s a low risk of inducing a seizure. This risk is minimal, especially when conducted by trained professionals adhering to guidelines. However, it’s a consideration for those with a history of seizures or epilepsy.
TMS Therapy Isn’t Recommended for Certain People
Because TMS uses magnetic fields, the therapy can cause problems for people who have metal inside their body near their neck or head. Since the magnetic field cannot pass through metal, it may cause the metal to heat up, which can be highly uncomfortable. Anyone with medical implants that contain metal, aneurysm clips, metal stents, or cochlear implants may not be eligible for treatment.
TMS therapy can also cause complications in people with a history of seizures and those who have brain tumors. If you’re interested in treatment, you’ll need to have a consultation, during which a specialist will determine if you’re a good candidate for the therapy.
At Prime Behavioral Health, our mission is to offer comprehensive care tailored to individual needs. TMS Therapy is one of the many treatments we provide to ensure optimal mental health outcomes. If you or someone you know is considering TMS Therapy, reach out to our expert team in Southlake, TX for consultation and guidance.
Contact us today.