Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation FAQs
What is TMS and how does it work?
When patients are severely depressed, they may be suffering from chemical imbalances in the brain. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (“TMS”) uses magnetic energy to non-invasively stimulate areas of the brain which are suffering from these chemical imbalances. The magnetic field produces an electric current in the brain that stimulates the brain cells (neurons). By stimulating these neuros, TMS helps reset these chemical imbalances.
Is TMS covered by my insurance
As TMS is now FDA approved as a safe and effective treatment for depression, many insurers are now covering TMS treatment. Our team at the TMS Center of the Hudson Valley has successfully secured substantial insurance reimbursement and coverage for its patients and many of our patients have had minimal out-of-pocket expense for treatment.
Is TMS Therapy a good alternative for patients who cannot tolerate the side effects associated with antidepressant medications?
TMS is non-systemic (does not circulate in the blood throughout the body), so it does not have side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, sedation, etc. The most common side effects reported during clinical trials were headache and scalp discomfort – generally mild to moderate – occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment.
Is TMS Therapy like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?
No, the two procedures are very different. While both are effective in the treatment of depression, there are many differences in safety and tolerability.
During TMS Therapy, patients sit in a chair and are awake and alert throughout the entire 19-37 minute procedure – no sedation is used with TMS Therapy. Patients can transport themselves to and from treatment.
In over 10,000 active treatments with the NeuroStar TMS Therapy system in clinical trials, no seizures were observed. TMS Therapy was also shown to have no negative effects on memory function in these studies.
In contrast, “shock therapy,” or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), intentionally causes a seizure. Patients receiving ECT must be sedated with general anesthesia and paralyzed with muscle relaxants. Recovery from an ECT treatment session occurs slowly, and patients are usually closely monitored for minutes or a even few hours after a treatment.
Short-term confusion and memory loss are common with ECT, and long-term disruptions in memory have been shown to occur and may persist indefinitely in some people. Because of the side effects associated with ECT, a significant amount of caregiver support is required.
What is a typical course of treatment with TMS Therapy?
A typical recommended course of TMS treatment is 36 sessions, occurring initially 5 times per week for the first several weeks and then slowly decreasing the frequency of treatment. Dr. Pardell may adjust your treatment schedule based on his clinical expertise. At the TMS Center of the Hudson Valley, we work to accommodate your schedule to help you achieve optimal results.
What are the potential risks of NeuroStar TMS Therapy?
NeuroStar TMS Therapy has been shown to be well tolerated and the Neurostar TMS Therapy system has been demonstrated to be safe in clinical trials. Throughout over 10,000 active treatments performed in clinical trials, the most commonly reported side effect related to treatment was scalp discomfort during treatment sessions. This side effect was generally mild to moderate, and occurred less frequently after the first week of treatment. Less than 5% of patients treated with NeuroStar TMS Therapy discontinued treatment due to side effects.
In NeuroStar clinical trials, over 10,000 TMS treatments demonstrated its safety, with no occurrence of seizures. However, there is a small risk of a seizure occurring during treatment. This risk is no greater than what has been observed with oral antidepressant medications.
While NeuroStar TMS Therapy has been demonstrated to be effective, not all patients will benefit from it. Patients should be carefully monitored for worsening symptoms, signs or symptoms of suicidal behavior, and/or unusual behavior. Families and caregivers should also be aware of the need to observe patients and notify their treatment provider if symptoms worsen.
Is TMS Therapy uncomfortable?
No, the most common side effect related to treatment was scalp discomfort during treatment sessions. This side effect was generally mild to moderate, and occurred less frequently after the first week of treatment.
If necessary, you can treat this discomfort with an over-the-counter analgesic. If these side effects persist, your doctor can temporarily reduce the strength of the magnetic field pulses being administered in order to make treatment more comfortable.
Less than 5% of patients treated with NeuroStar TMS Therapy discontinued treatment due to side effects.
How long does the antidepressant effect last? Will I need any therapy beyond the first treatment regimen?
NeuroStar TMS is the only TMS system with the durability of its effects established over 12 months. In a clinical trial, 2 out of 3 patients who had either responded to treatment or completely remitted their depression symptoms reported 12 months later that they remained at the level they were at the end of the trial. Additionally, after the trial, only 1 in 3 patients needed to return for ‘maintenance’ TMS sessions.
Can I also take antidepressant(s) if I am receiving NeuroStar TMS Therapy?
Yes. In clinical trials, NeuroStar TMS Therapy was safely administered with and without other antidepressant medications.
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The TMS Center of the Hudson Valley is the first established TMS treatment center in Poughkeepsie, New York and the Greater Hudson Valley. Our mission is to provide personalized and effective TMS treatments for our patients.