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Healing From Depression Without Medication

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a relatively new but extensively studied treatment for depression. During TMS, a magnetic pulse stimulates areas of the brain affected by depression. This creates increased blood flow and the production of beneficial neurotransmitters. Remarkably it also increases Brain Derived Nerve Growth Factor (BDNF), which allows for new connections to form in the brain, thus increasing neuroplasticity. When the brain has more neuroplasticity, it learns more efficiently and can develop new habits more easily. TMS has also benefited chronic pain, anxiety, and nicotine use disorder. Studies using TMS to treat ADHD and autism have shown some benefits though more studies are needed to determine the role TMS could have in improving the lives of people with ADHD and autism. TMS resolves depression in one-third of people who have not responded fully or at all to medications and therapy. In another third of people, their symptoms get much better than on any medications. One-third of patients who have not improved on medicines and therapy also do not respond to TMS. TMS is FDA cleared and very safe. Side effects are minimal and usually limited to headaches initially after treatment. When beginning treatment, people can have pain at the site of magnetic stimulation on the scalp. Hearing protection is worn during treatment to protect from the noise, which can be loud.

How TMS Works

During TMS, a magnet in a figure 8 is placed over the “Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex.” That area in a depressed brain commonly lacks blood flow and neurotransmitter activity. The TMS magnetic coil is turned on and off quickly. Like electric circuits, the neurons in the brain are activated to fire when the magnet turns on and off. When this happens, this increases blood flow and neurotransmitter production. At this time, this is hypothesized to be the therapeutic mechanism that allows for alleviating depression with TMS.

What to Expect

TMS treatment is a commitment. Sessions are typically 20-50 minutes and take place five days a week for six weeks. Most patients report having time to step back from the business of life. Nothing enters your bloodstream during treatment; no need for anesthesia, and you will be fine to drive afterward.





How Will I Know TMS Therapy Worked for Me?

Many TMS patients begin to feel better after a few treatments; some don’t feel better until after completing the entire treatment course. Some will feel better for a while, then start to dip in their moods and return to feeling better after a few more treatments. It’s important to remember that everyone is different and stick with it. Around 67% of patients respond positively to treatment. As many as 45.1% of patients have a complete remission of symptoms.
When patients begin feeling better, they often report enjoying what they used to, such as hobbies, time with their families, and spending time outside. After TMS, you may find that you’re sleeping better and have more energy. You may see an improvement in your eating habits, be less irritable, in a better mood, be more patient, and have a better sense of humor. Depending on the severity of your initial depression, you may find that you’re taking better care of your personal

Why Choose TMS Therapy?

Many conditions like depression, OCD, anxiety, and PTSD are treatable, but the medications prescribed don’t always work or have undesired side effects. Psychotropic drugs can cause headaches, weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, dry mouth, constipation, diabetes, photosensitivity, and hair loss. TMS often causes no side effects. In over 10,000 clinical trials, the most frequent side effect was mild to moderate discomfort of the scalp.

Infrequent side effects are occasional tingling at the treatment site, lightheadedness, temporary face twitches, and a low-level temporary headache easily remedied by over-the-counter pain relievers. These side effects usually pass within a day. Severe side effects are rare. Uncommon side effects such as mania in bipolar patients, hearing damage in those who fail to wear appropriate hearing protection during treatments, and seizures have been reported in some cases.

Unlike prescription medications which must be taken daily, once a patient undergoes a round of TMS treatments, the effects are long-lasting. There are no tablets to swallow, and often no follow-up treatments are needed.

Who Should Not Have TMS Therapy?

Because of the strong magnetic field of the TMS machine, we do not recommend TMS treatment for those who have the following:

  • Metal devices or implants in the body (There should be no metal in your body within 30 cm or about 12 inches of the area of stimulation of the magnet).

  • Examples include:

  • Stents

  • Magnetic implants

  • Aneurysm coils or clips

  • Electrodes for monitoring brain activity

  • Implanted vagus nerve or deep brain stimulators

  • Cochlear implants for hearing

  • Bullet fragments

  • Implanted stimulators

  • Implanted electrical devices

How to Prepare for TMS Therapy in Tampa

Before beginning TMS therapy, you must meet with a psychiatric nurse practitioner or psychiatrist for a psychiatric evaluation. This allows your care provider to diagnose your condition and customize the best possible treatment plan for you. They may advise TMS to work in conjunction with medication management services and psychiatry. During your psychological evaluation, expect to share your emotional, cognitive, and family history.

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