Accelerated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive, effective treatment for depression delivered in a highly condensed timeline, which was recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While standard treatment courses can be six to eight weeks, accelerated TMS takes only one to two weeks with longer treatment days.
TMS works by stimulating the brain pathways affected by depression to support healing, neurogenesis, and emotional regulation. This innovative treatment can bring depression remission around in under a week and is another treatment option for depression that is unresponsive to medication or standard TMS therapy.
When preparing for treatment, follow these steps:
1. Review TMS Contraindications
If you have been battling depression for a long time, you might be getting excited after hearing about a newly approved treatment. Unfortunately, it’s possible you may not qualify for treatment. If you have any of the following, you’ll need to discuss them with a provider before beginning treatment.
- Deep brain stimulators
- A history of seizures or a seizure disorder
- Aneurysm clips or coils
- Bullet fragments or shrapnel anywhere in your neck up
- Stents in your neck or head
- Any unremovable objects in your neck upwards that are not MRI safe
If you are still determining if you have any disqualifying items, discuss them with your TMS specialist during your initial consult.
2. Speak to TMS Providers Before Treatment
Before undergoing an accelerated TMS treatment, it’s essential to know if it’s the best option for you. TMS specialists can evaluate your case and provide a recommendation. Providers primarily use this treatment for those patients with long-standing or treatment-resistant major depressive disorder and those with acute suicidal tendencies. However, it can also successfully treat post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance use.
It is important to note that insurance will likely not cover any accelerated TMS currently, while most will cover standard TMS.
3. Schedule Your Treatment and Take Time Off Work
After consulting with your provider and opting for accelerated TMS, you must take some time off work. While you can squeeze standard TMS treatment into your work days, accelerated TMS is condensed and will not work with office hours. Your provider can let you know how much time off you should take at your initial consultation. Typically, you will need to take a week’s leave as it is a five-day treatment, but you may need up to two weeks.
4. Have Supplies and Support With You
Each session takes an hour: less than 10 minutes of actual treatment and 50 minutes of recovery. You will have up to 10 sessions per treatment day for approximately five days. Because of this, you will want to dress comfortably and have something to keep you entertained during rest periods.
Depending on the treatment center, you can bring a friend or family member to hang out with during your recovery. You can listen to music or podcasts during treatment, use your phone, or watch a show. Make sure you have your favorites pre-downloaded, headphones, and don’t forget a charger.
Since the days can be long, bring a refillable water bottle and snacks. You can experience short-term scalp discomfort during the actual treatment delivery or a minor headache. You can take over-the-counter medication to alleviate these discomforts, so bring some. Treatment centers often have some on hand but don’t count on it. Please remember to consult your treatment team before taking any medications and notify your team if you are taking other medicines or supplements for other health conditions.
5. Relax and Trust the Process
It’s common to feel a little anxious before your first session. Rest assured, you will be awake and sit in a comfortable chair for your treatment. Even though accelerated TMS is newly approved, the same machine is used for standard and accelerated to deliver magnetic pulses to the targeted brain areas related to your mood disorder. It’s an entirely safe treatment that will provide a faster recovery. Relax and enjoy the best me time you can give yourself.
While there aren’t any restrictions after your session, you may feel a little tired and want someone to drive you home after your first day. If you can, set up a ride to and from your Neurostim TMS centers for the first few days. Even if you don’t need them, it’s nice to know your transportation is taken care of on your treatment days.
Accelerated TMS can be a significant investment of your time and money, but you get what you put into it. According to a study conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine, 79% of patients experienced a remission of their symptoms within days of beginning treatment, and these results lasted for months. These results are all possible without the fatigue, listlessness, decreased libido, brain fog, and weight gain that often result from taking antidepressants. Speak to your provider today about your updated treatment options.
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