How Does TMS Work? What’s Procedure And Side Effects?

The Procedure

A NeuroStar TMS Therapy treatment session is a short outpatient procedure that lasts about 40 minutes. During treatment, you can relax in the treatment chair. You can also speak with the system operator whenever necessary. After the procedure, you can immediately return to your normal routine, but we invite you to stay in our waiting room and relax.

Your First Treatment Session

Because our psychiatrist needs to determine how to most effectively administer treatment, your first session could last up to an hour and a half. You will be provided with and asked to wear protective earplugs, as the system emits a tapping sound during operation.

Our psychiatrist will first perform a test to identify your motor threshold. The motor threshold is the amount of magnetic field strength that results in a movement of your right thumb. This test is important because it identifies the magnetic field strength that will be used in your treatment. This field strength is customized for each patient to deliver the correct treatment dose.

After this initial procedure, our physician will determine the place on the head where the TMS treatment will be applied and the treatment coil will be moved to that location. This will allow you to receive optimal treatment.

TMS Therapy will be administered over a 40-minute period. In 30-second intervals, the device will deliver rapid “pulses” of the magnetic fields. These will feel like tapping on your scalp. Some patients may find this tapping uncomfortable. Your physician may be able to make adjustments to reduce this discomfort.

Side Effects

During or after treatment, you may experience a headache or discomfort at the site of stimulation. These are common side effects which usually improve as further treatment sessions are administered. If necessary, you can treat this discomfort with an over-the-counter medication such as Motrin. If these side effects persist, your doctor can temporarily reduce the strength of the magnetic field pulses being administered in order to make treatment more comfortable.

In clinical trials, most patients who benefited from NeuroStar TMS Therapy experienced results by the fourth week of treatment. Some patients may experience results in less time, while others may take longer. You should discuss your depression symptoms with your physician throughout the treatment course.