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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy

Major depression is a debilitating medical illness that affects 14 million Americans every year. Unfortunately, each year as many as 4 million people suffering major depression do not respond to antidepressant medications or cannot tolerate the side effects. But even in these cases, Loyola has a plan.

New Treatment for Depression

We now offer Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy, a cost-effective, noninvasive, nondrug outpatient treatment administered under the supervision of a doctor. The FDA-approved treatment is administered in a device that resembles a comfortable dentist’s chair, which has a headrest and reclines. The patient remains awake during the treatment; it does not require any sedation or anesthesia. Except for the initial treatment, the sessions last about a half-hour. The typical course of therapy consists of five treatments per week for four to six weeks. With this outpatient treatment, patients can immediately return to normal activities after treatment and can even drive home. Patients will find that the cost of this therapy at Loyola, a not-for-profit medical center, is quite economically priced.

Help for Depression

With TMS therapy, a series of short electromagnetic pulses is delivered to the part of the brain associated with depression and other mood disorders. The pulses generate an electric current in the brain that stimulates neurons, which increases the release of more mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and relieves the symptoms of depression.

Your doctor will give you earplugs during treatment because the device emits a tapping sound. You may develop a slight headache or tingling on your scalp during or after treatment. These usually diminish after the first week. If necessary, you can take an over-the-counter analgesic. But in clinical trials, only 5 percent of those treated with TMS decided to discontinue therapy because of these mild reactions.

In a study in which all patients received treatment, about half of those treated with TMS therapy reported a significant improvement in their symptoms of depression. About one-third experienced complete symptom relief after six weeks.

Although this treatment uses a magnetic field, its side effects are quite different from other electricity-based therapies, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). With ECT, patients are anesthetized and often lose short-term memory immediately after treatment. Sometimes they lose long-term memory as well. TMS has none of these side effects.

Clinical trials have proven that the treatment is safe. In 10,000 treatments, patients experienced:

  • No seizures
  • No weight gain
  • No sexual dysfunction
  • No sedation
  • No nausea
  • No dry mouth
  • No loss of concentration or memory
  • No device-drug interactions

Because this therapy uses a very strong magnet, TMS should not be used with patients who have implanted or nonremovable metallic devices or objects in or around the head. And TMS should only be used with caution in patients with implanted devices controlled by physiological signals, like pacemakers or cardioverter defibrillators.

Nearly 70 insurance carriers currently have partial or complete coverage for TMS therapy and it is a Medicare-approved therapy in five states. Please contact your insurance carrier about coverage. An appeals process also has been established for those denied coverage. Financing through outside agencies is available for those interested.

The American Psychiatric Association and the World Psychiatric Association have recognized the effectiveness of TMS as a treatment for depression. TMS is indicated for adult patients who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from one prior antidepressant medication at or above the minimal effective dose and duration in the current episode.

For an appointment or for more information about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy, call (708) 216-5093.