Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
at Our Boston Area Clinic
Sometimes traditional treatment methods, including psychotherapy and daily use of medication, are not effective treatments for major depression or anxiety.
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 not only safe and largely free of side effects, but also 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
, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa. Because of the flexibility of our equipment, and our dedication to using current research to continually fine-tune our protocols, we are also able to use TMS to successfully treat bipolar disorder
, obsessive-compulsive disorder
, seasonal affective disorder
, and post-traumatic stress disorder
How Does TMS Work?
TMS works by using precisely targeted magnetic pulses to stimulate or inhibit specific areas of the brain involved in the production of symptoms. Some pulses are designed to activate certain brain areas. For example, activating pulses would be used to treat patients who feel lethargy and hopelessness. Protocols designed to quiet down overactive areas might be used for patients who suffer with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. With multiple treatments, many people can achieve complete remission from depression and anxiety in a matter of weeks.
At Cambridge Biotherapies, we provide consultation to both patients and clinicians, and work collaboratively with outside treaters.
In addition to standard TMS, which is 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 is demonstrating that Theta Burst may be even more effective than standard TMS protocols.
What to Expect During a TMS Session
During a TMS treatment you will be seated in a comfortable chair, and a small cotton mapping 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 you scalp, and may notice that your hands or fingers move slightly when the correct treatment area is located.
Once the ideal treatment area is located, 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 sensation 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 throughout this time you will remain awake and alert. TMS has no immediate effect on your mood or cognition, so you will immediately be able to return to your normal activities. For the greatest efficacy, at Cambridge Biotherapies we recommend a 3- to 6-week treatment course with sessions scheduled 4 to 5 days a week.
Is TMS Effective for Treating Depression and Anxiety?
In numerous studies, TMS has been proven to be more effective than medication for the treatment of depression in patients who have not responded to one or more antidepressants. Additionally, ongoing research is demonstrating the effectiveness and safety of TMS in the treatment of 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.
Side Effects of TMS
Because it uses magnetic pulses, TMS is largely free of side effects, in much the same way that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is free of side effects. 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 any aspect of cognitive functioning. In fact, 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.
Cambridge Biotherapies will work with patients and clinicians to obtain insurance reimbursement for treatment.
Many health insurance policies in Massachusetts including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, Health New England, Tufts Health Plan, Aetna, and United Behavioral Health cover TMS.
Cambridge Biotherapies will either submit insurance claims on behalf of our patients or guide them through the submission process if they prefer to deal directly with their own insurance companies.
We are open to working with patients who would benefit from TMS, but are either unable to afford the treatment or do not have adequate insurance coverage. Please contact us
for more information about our sliding scale fee.
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