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Long-Term Side Effects of TMS Therapy

Mental Health ,TMS

side effects of tms therapy

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, impacting approximately 9.5% of the population. Women are twice as likely to develop depression than men, however this condition certainly impacts both genders. Today, the most common treatment for depression is a combination of medication and therapy, however not everyone with depression finds relief from this traditional approach. Individuals who try the usual depression treatments and who still do not experience much change are known to have treatment-resistant depression, or TRD. TMS therapy has been proven to help treat those with TRD successfully, and despite common misconception, there are no long-term side effects of TMS therapy.

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What is TMS Therapy?

TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. TMS therapy works by utilizing a magnetic coil to deliver stimulation to specific parts of the brain that are impacted by depression. Basically, when someone has depression, areas of the brain that are otherwise supposed to function normally do not, which creates symptoms of depression such as apathy, loneliness, extreme sadness, etc. Someone who receives TMS therapy has a magnetic coil placed on their head (usually on the forehead). That coil then emits magnetic pulses to help stimulate the brain in ways that reduce the symptoms caused by depression. TMS therapy is a form of treatment that people usually participate in more than once to help treat their treatment-resistant depression. 

Is TMS Therapy Safe?

TMS therapy is often misconstrued as being some sort of medieval treatment, however that could not be farther from the truth. Not only is TMS therapy non-invasive and doesn’t produce any pain at all, it is also deemed a safe and effective treatment for depression. Not everyone with treatment-resistant depression can safely utilize this form of therapy, as there are risks for people who have metal in or around their heads. Some examples of the metals that might prevent a person from receiving TMS therapy include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Shrapnel or bullet fragments
  • Cochlear implants
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Metal stents
  • Tattoos containing magnetic or magnetic-sensitive ink
  • Medical implants of any kind containing metal

Being open and honest with a TMS provider is absolutely necessary, as omitting medical information such as this can lead to potentially life-threatening effects. Generally speaking, however, individuals who do not have metal in or around their heads are often cleared for TMS therapy, including those with pacemakers.

Side Effects of TMS Therapy

As mentioned earlier, TMS therapy is highly effective and proven safe. However, that does not mean that patients can’t experience any side effects from this treatment. The most common side effects that impact patients include mild headaches or tingling in the scalp or jaw. These effects fade away quickly and typically do not impair a patient’s ability to carry out their everyday tasks. 

According to a number of clinical studies, long-term side effects of TMS therapy have not been reported. Individuals with treatment-resistant depression can obtain TMS therapy safely without worrying that there are long-term impacts of this specific form of treatment. 

Misconceptions About TMS Therapy

Despite this information, many people still find it hard to believe that there are no long-term side effects of TMS therapy. To put this in better context, it is helpful to understand the level of magnetic exposure that occurs during this process. Patients are only experiencing a very small amount of magnetic exposure during each TMS session. Patients who receive an MRI have more magnetic exposure than those who are getting a TMS treatment. In fact, even participating in a handful of TMS therapy sessions would equal out to the same magnetic exposure that would be received during a few MRI sessions. 

Another common misconception about TMS therapy is that it is linked to the development of brain tumors. Again, this is not correct. There is currently no evidence that shows a connection between TMS therapy and brain tumors at this time. It has also been proven that TMS therapy is not linked in any way to memory loss or concentration problems. 

TMS therapy remains one of the safest and most effective therapies for depression. Traditional therapies absolutely work, but there are many more side effects associated with the use of prescription medications than with TMS therapy. For example, many antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, sexual dysfunction, sedation, and stomach problems. One of the benefits of TMS therapy is that these side effects do not occur during or after the treatment.

TMS Therapy in Broward County

At My Psychiatrist, we understand just how painful it can be to live with untreated depression. We know that it can feel even more painful if you attempt to get treatment but you experience little to no effects. Because we know the distress associated with depression, we are deeply passionate about treating it. 
If you are struggling with depression and have not had any luck with traditional treatment options, reach out to us at My Psychiatrist right now. Our team of dedicated professionals is ready to help you overcome your challenges with depression and get you living a happier, healthier life.