According to Harvard University, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for depression is a safe and effective treatment that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate different brain areas. TMS is non-invasive (does not require surgery), non-systemic (does not affect the entire body), and well-tolerated. TMS therapy can be used alone or with other treatment modalities, including behavioral therapies and medication.
Patients recline in a treatment chair during TMS treatment and remain awake and alert. A TMS magnet is positioned over the patient’s head to deliver pulses to specific areas of the brain. Patients report that the pulses feel like taps on the scalp. Each treatment session lasts about 3 minutes, after which patients can immediately return to their daily routines.
Most people tolerate TMS well. Sometimes patients experience mild scalp discomfort or mild headache during treatment. Most patients notice symptom improvement with TMS after two weeks of treatment (8-10 sessions)TMS is both non-invasive and non-systemic. It has fewer side effects than other treatments. In some cases, no side effects at all. Other treatments rely on deep brain stimulation or vagus nerve stimulation. Unlike those treatments, TMS does not require electrode implantation or surgery. It will not cause seizures or require the use of anesthesia sedation. In fact, TMS will not affect cognitive function. Patients can go about daily activities following treatment.
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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation started as a treatment option for non-responsive depression. Overtime, it has grown to include other disorders as well. However, it remains a depression alternative treatment option for many people.