Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), sometimes referred to as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), is an alternative approach for treating psychiatric and neurological disorders. It is a non-invasive brain stimulation therapy that uses a targeted, pulsing magnetic field to stimulate specific brain areas.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for mental health disorders. Every condition affects each individual uniquely, producing varying symptoms in varying intensities. Similarly, not everyone reacts well or reacts at all to traditional therapeutic treatments, such as medication. Treatments like TMS were developed for individuals who experience treatment-resistant conditions — conditions that don’t respond to typical treatment options. TMS is especially used as an alternative approach for those struggling with treatment-resistant depression.
Nonetheless, many individuals may question the efficiency and efficacy of alternative treatment methods, especially brain stimulation therapies. This is why it is essential to understand the current research regarding the success rates of TMS.
How Does TMS Therapy Work?
TMS therapy is not a one-time solution for depression. Rather, it requires multiple sessions over a short, concentrated period of time. During a session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against the patient’s forehead. When the session begins, the coil delivers magnetic pulses that stimulate nerve cells in the patient’s brain. Typically, the targeted brain cells are associated with the brain region responsible for emotional regulation. For individuals who struggle with depression, this brain region is compromised and underactive.
TMS therapy takes place in an in-office treatment setting while the patient lies awake and alert. Sessions last anywhere from 19-40 minutes and are typically administered five days a week, for about four to six weeks. TMS does not affect a patient’s alertness or understanding. It is so non-invasive that patients can feel comfortable enough to drive themselves to and from their treatment sessions with no negative side effects.
This treatment has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Additionally, TMS is proven as a safe, non-invasive and effective treatment option for depression.
Success Rates of TMS Depression Treatment
There is a plethora of up-and-coming research regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of TMS. One article states that the “prevalence of treatment resistance in depression is close to 20%.” It goes on to explain that there are both high-frequency and low-frequency TMS modalities. The type of frequency used during a session could determine the overall effectiveness of the treatment.
This article mentions a study that consisted of 196 patients who were diagnosed with major depression disorder (MDD). Of these individuals, more than 97% were considered to have treatment-resistant depression. At the end of combined psychotherapy and TMS treatment, there was a 66% patient response rate and a 56% remission rate. This study shows that when TMS is combined with psychotherapy, it can also increase the likelihood of remission.
There are also a number of personal success stories from patients who have received TMS therapy. A patient from DiscoveryMD reported the following:
“For about 20 minutes a day, five days a week, magnetic pulses targeted the part of my ‘sleeping’ brain that was making me sick. By the fourth week of treatment—a miracle! The storm cloud of depression started to lighten and lift. By the final week, it was gone completely. No depression; no anxiety! I was back! Happy, calm, strong. Excited about my life and the future.”
Additionally, there is strong clinical evidence that addresses the effectiveness of TMS therapy. Overall, the conclusions of these studies show significant success rates of this treatment and its ability to combat debilitating symptoms of depression.
How to Get Started With TMS Therapy
It is important to understand that TMS is a newer approach to treatment. Therefore, only a handful of facilities may offer TMS therapy as part of their treatment services.
In the same way, not everyone will qualify for TMS. Currently, this treatment is only approved for individuals who have tried but have not benefitted from other antidepressant treatments. TMS should also not be used on patients who have implanted metallic devices, non-removable metallic objects in or around their heads or implants controlled by physiological signals. This may include devices such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators and vagus nerve simulators.
Insurance Qualifications for TMS Therapy
An additional consideration for this modality is whether or not one’s insurance provider will cover the costs of treatment. Because it is an effective and FDA-approved treatment modality, most insurance companies may be willing to cover part, if not all, of the treatment service. Still, individuals may want to speak with their insurance provider to fully understand whether their plan covers the service and if there are any additional out-of-pocket costs.
To better understand who may qualify for TMS therapy, it may be wise to receive a professional opinion from the staff at a treatment facility that offers the modality.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation therapy that has been proven to be effective in treating treatment-resistant depression. DiscoveryMD is a comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment facility that believes in the efficacy of TMS therapy to treat depression. To learn more, contact us today.