TMS presents a powerful treatment option for patients who have not benefited from one or more antidepressant trials. For those seeking a non-invasive or non-medication treatment option, TMS offers an FDA-cleared approach that is safe and essentially free of side effects and twice as effective as traditional antidepressants for symptoms of depression and anxiety.
At Cambridge Biotherapies™, we provide empirically-validated treatments using TMS for patients suffering from depression, anxiety, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa. Because of the flexibility of our equipment and our dedication to using current research to fine-tune our protocols continually, we can also use TMS to successfully treat bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In numerous studies, TMS is more effective than medication for the treatment of depression in patients who have not responded to one or more antidepressants. Additionally, ongoing research demonstrates the effectiveness and safety of TMS in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression during and following pregnancy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and certain kinds of chronic pain.
Remission rates are variable, but a course of TMS therapy for depression can keep patients symptom-free for a year or more.
TMS uses targeted magnetic pulses to stimulate or inhibit specific areas of the brain where symptoms of depression and anxiety originate. Some pulses activate particular brain areas. For example, activating pulses would be used to treat patients who feel lethargy and hopelessness. Protocols designed to quiet down overactive regions might apply to patients who suffer from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people achieve remission from depression and anxiety in weeks with multiple treatments.
In addition to standard TMS, offered by other treatment centers and hospitals in the Boston area, we offer a new, FDA-approved protocol called Theta Burst. While standard TMS requires 20 minutes per treatment, Theta Burst requires only 1 to 3 minutes per treatment. Furthermore, ongoing research demonstrates that Theta Burst may be even more effective than standard TMS protocols.
During a TMS treatment, you will be seated in a comfortable chair, and a small cotton cap will be placed on your head. The TMS therapist will then conduct a “mapping” session to determine the ideal areas for treatment. During this mapping session, you will feel a tapping sensation on your scalp and may notice that your hands or fingers move slightly when the correct treatment area is located.
Once we identify the ideal treatment area, the TMS therapist will mark this spot on the cap, and you will wear that cap during each subsequent treatment. During treatment, the coil will be placed gently against your head. You will hear a clicking sound and feel a gentle tapping on your head. Some people may notice that each pulse causes their eye muscles to twitch, but these sensations become predictable and easy to tolerate. Each session takes approximately 20 minutes, and you will remain awake and alert. TMS does not immediately affect your mood or cognition, so you can return to normal activities the same day. For the greatest efficacy, at Cambridge Biotherapies™, we recommend a 3-6 week treatment course with sessions scheduled 4 to 5 days a week.
Because it uses magnetic pulses, TMS is largely free of side effects, much like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Due to this low-risk profile, TMS is an excellent treatment choice for patients who cannot tolerate the risks or side effects of antidepressants or other biological treatments, such as ECT (electroconvulsive therapy).
Unlike some medications, TMS has no adverse effects on alertness or cognitive functioning. There is evidence that TMS enhances certain aspects of cognitive functioning, including short-term memory.
The most common side effect of treatment is discomfort at or near the treatment site. Other reported side effects have included eye, tooth, and facial pain, muscle twitch, and skin discomfort. There is a rare risk of seizure.