Below you will find the answers to some of the more common questions about NeuroStar TMS Therapy®:
What is TMS Therapy?
Since the 1980s, transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used to study the nerve fibers that carry information about movements from the brain to the spinal cord and onto the muscles. In the late 1990s physicians began to explore the therapeutic potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of a variety of diseases, with depression being the most thoroughly studied to date. Since then, more than 30 randomized, controlled trials studying transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment for depression have been published by investigators throughout the world.
NeuroStar TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) Therapy was recently FDA-cleared for patients suffering from depression who have not achieved satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medications. Using pulsed magnetic fields, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy stimulates the part of the brain thought to be involved with mood regulation. TMS Therapy is a short outpatient procedure, performed in your psychiatrist’s office under their supervision while you remain awake and alert. The typical initial course of treatment is about 37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.
The TMS NeuroStar system, developed by Neuronetics, is the first and only non-systemic and non-invasive depression treatment cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of patients with major depression who have not benefited from prior antidepressant treatment.
TMS NeuroStar Therapy is:
- Non-invasive, meaning that it does not involve surgery. It does not require any anesthesia or sedation, as the patient remains awake and alert during the treatment.
- Non-systemic, meaning that it is not taken by mouth and does not circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body
Does TMS cause any side effects?
Since TMS does not circulate through the body, it causes none of the side effects that medications cause, such as dry mouth, upset stomach, dizziness, drowsiness, weight gain, or sexual dysfunction. TMS does cause a tingling sensation on the scalp, but most people quickly get used to this and it’s not unusual for someone to doze off during a treatment.
Is there anyone who should not have TMS?
The only reason why someone should absolutely not have TMS is if they have a metal object, like a surgical clip, for example, somewhere in the head. Pacemakers and defibrillators are not usually a problem since they lie outside the magnetic field. TMS has also been safely used in women who are pregnant. It can be safely used in the elderly as well as adolescents. There is an extremely low risk of having a seizure--about 1 in 10,000--so if a person has ever had a seizure, special precautions may be necessary.
Can TMS make depression worse?
There is no evidence that TMS can make depression worse, unlike antidepressants, all of which carry a “black box warning” on the label. Antidepressants have been known to make some people, especially adolescents, feel worse or even suicidal.
What makes the NeuroStar® TMS Therapy System special?
The NeuroStar® TMS Therapy System is the only form of TMS approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression. It is specially designed so that the patient can comfortably relax throughout the treatment session and is designed so that it is easy for the doctor, or the doctor’s assistant, to properly locate the stimulus site. Other features include special circuits to reduce scalp tingling and a magnetic field detector, which makes sure that all of the magnetic pulses are being properly administered.
How does TMS work?
Unlike antidepressants, which act in a diffuse, non-specific way on the brain’s chemical messengers called neurotransmitters; TMS directly influences specific parts of the brain responsible for causing symptoms of depression. Rather than acting upon brain chemistry, TMS acts upon brain circuitry by activating and strengthening existing circuits and stimulating the growth of new circuits.
Why must TMS be given everyday?
The long term effects of TMS are the result of changes in the actual physical structure of the brain. This process is called “neuroplasticity.” These changes take time and depend upon repeated, frequent administration of TMS. Although TMS does require a time commitment, because it does not require anesthesia, a person can drive themselves to and from treatment and it is usually not necessary to take off much, if any, time from work or school.
How quickly does TMS work?
Many people notice temporary improvement in the first week due to the activation of existing circuits. Longer lasting improvement occurs several weeks later when new circuits are formed. Maximum improvement, however, may not be achieved until about 4 to 6 weeks of treatment.
How will I know that I am getting better?
Depression is a syndrome that can have many different symptoms and not every with depression has the same symptoms. Some of the first things that many people report are thinking more clearly and improvements in sleep pattern, energy level, and appetite. Many times these symptoms improve before a person’s mood.
How effective is TMS?
Clinical studies have shown that TMS is effective about 75% of the time, which means that it is twice as effective as antidepressant medications and almost as effective as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Half of those who respond to TMS experience significant improvement in the first four weeks of treatment.
How does TMS compare to other treatments for depression?
ECT requires general anesthesia, so it must be given in a hospital even if it is done as an outpatient procedure. It can cause confusion, memory problems, and significant effects on the cardiovascular system. Although confusion and memory problems are only temporary, it is virtually impossible to continue to go to work or school while having ECT. The vagus nerve stimulator requires invasive and risky surgery, and although it is FDA approved, it is generally not very effective. Deep brain stimulation is another surgical treatment for depression, but it is still considered to be experimental and a high risk procedure.
Is TMS a cure for depression?
How much does TMS cost?
Since the cost of treatment can vary based on a number of factors, including the total number of treatments and the specific protocol being used, it is our policy not to quote specific costs until a person has been evaluated.