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How Effective is TMS Therapy?

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Brain from wooden puzzles. Mental Health and problems with memory.
Published: July 18, 2022
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Depression is a common mental health condition that affects an estimated 21 million adults throughout the United States. For many individuals, a combination of talk therapy and antidepressant medications can help reduce the amount and severity of depressive episodes.

However, the same type of mental health treatment does not work for everyone. For those with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), alternative depression treatments may provide relief or even put their depression into remission.

What Is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a state-of-the-art treatment that is changing the lives of people who experience treatment-resistant depression. TMS uses magnetic fields that stimulate the nerve cells in the regions of the brain responsible for mood control – especially depression.

TMS therapy is an FDA-approved treatment for depression as well as other health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and even migraines. TMS treatment is an outpatient procedure that takes about 20 minutes and is typically recommended 5 times per week for a period of 4-6 weeks. TMS therapy is non-invasive, and most patients experience little to no discomfort during or after treatment.

Is TMS Therapy Effective for Treating Depression?

Along with its FDA approval, clinical research supports that TMS therapy is an effective treatment for treatment-resistant depression.

Success rates vary, but TMS provides significant relief for most people who undergo the treatments. According to recent clinical trials, up to 83% of TMS patients experience improvements in their depression symptoms, while 62% achieve complete remission. Comparatively, oral antidepressants are shown to have a response for only 47% of patients, with 30% achieving full remission.

Is TMS an Alternative to Antidepressants?

If SSRIs or other antidepressants have not provided relief for your depression, TMS therapy may be a worthwhile alternative.

Depression treatment is often a long process of trial and error. Psychiatrists cannot accurately predict which antidepressant will work for each patient, and you may require a combination of different medications to see results. Even more frustrating, some patients may experience a decrease in their antidepressants’ efficacy over time, leading to relapses or worsening symptoms.

Some differences between antidepressants and TMS therapy include:

  • TMS provides faster results. Patients may have to take an antidepressant for 1 to 2 months to determine if it works for them. This means that many people spend 4 to 8 months trying different medications.
  • TMS causes fewer side effects. TMS therapy may cause headaches or scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation, but this generally goes away after your therapy session, with no recovery period thereafter. Antidepressants, on the other hand, pose a risk for a variety of side effects that may last a few weeks or be ongoing. The known side effects of many antidepressants include nausea, increased appetite, weight gain, insomnia, agitation or irritability, sexual dysfunction, and headaches.
  • Unlike TMS treatment, oral antidepressants must be taken daily for an indefinite period of time. Stopping your medication can cause side effects and even withdrawals, and you should not interrupt your treatment plan without a doctor’s guidance. TMS therapy is a defined course of treatment over the course of several weeks, with no withdrawal period after treatment ends.

Consult with our TMS Therapy Providers

A high success rate among those with treatment-resistant depression, the ease and comfort of treatment, and the lack of serious side effects make TMS one of the most effective treatment options for people with depression.

For more information about transcranial magnetic stimulation, consult with the caring and compassionate mental health professionals at BestMind. Our team would be more than happy to help you find a depression treatment that really works for you.