Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS treatment, is a non-invasive method of mood regulation. It uses magnetic energy to excite target neurotransmitters responsible for mental disorders like depression. Understanding what this treatment is about can help you prepare for it. Here are the details about what happens during a TMS treatment.Talking to the doctor before the…
The Number of Sessions for TMS Depression Therapy
Think of depression therapy as an umbrella term for different treatments that help with the illness. The most common of these treatments are psychotherapy and medication. Sometimes, a psychiatrist will recommend brain stimulation treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy. Keep reading to find out how TMS works and how long the treatment takes.
Depression therapy with TMS: How it works
Some mental health problems have a physical effect on the brain as well as the brain's chemistry. For example, prolonged depression causes the brain to produce more cortisol than it should. Cortisol is a stress hormone that leads to shrinkage in regions of the brain that are responsible for:
- Mood regulation
- Planning and decision-making
- Memory association and emotional response
These brain functions affect a person's ability to be as functional and productive as possible. The prefrontal cortex is one crucial brain region that decreases function when a person suffers from depression. Depression seems to dial down the activity level in this part of the brain. As a result, the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex may produce less of the beneficial brain chemicals that the brain needs.
TMS therapy targets the prefrontal cortex by inducing electrical currents that excite the dull nerve cells. When the cells come alive, they produce beneficial neurotransmitters like serotonin. These brain chemicals help with mood regulation and cognition. Here is what a treatment regimen for TMS depression therapy looks like.
The time aspect of TMS therapy
A TMS therapy session is a simple affair that involves a patient sitting in a comfortable chair. The patient will wear a pair of earmuffs to shut out noise from the TMS machine. Lastly, a psychiatrist or technician will place a TMS coil on the person's scalp, directly over the prefrontal cortex.
The technician will turn on the TMS machine, which sends magnetic pulses through the TMS coil. Magnetic energy penetrates the skull and turns into electric energy as it enters the brain. Here is how long the process takes, from the duration of each session to the length of the entire treatment.
1. Length of the average TMS therapy session
Some TMS machines deliver high-frequency magnetic pulses that reduce a session to 10 minutes or less. However, the typical TMS session takes between 20 and 50 minutes, including breaks.
2. Number of TMS sessions that a patient needs
Psychiatrists recommend that a patient take five TMS therapy sessions a week, which is manageable. The short sessions allow patients to work the TMS treatments into their daily routine. Better still, TMS treatment plans only take a few weeks.
3. TMS treatment takes four to six weeks on average
Some patients will experience an improvement in their symptoms after a few TMS sessions. Many more start to see noticeable results after a few weeks.
4. The effects last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months
TMS treatment offers relief from the symptoms of depression in the medium term. This means from three months to one year. The patient should check in with their psychiatrist for monitoring purposes. These routine visits allow the doctor to evaluate how well TMS therapy works for their patient. The psychiatrist may recommend additional sessions in the future, depending on the patient's progress.
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