Trans-Cranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS for short, was approved in 2008 by the FDA as an acceptable treatment for Depression. It has been shown to improve symptoms, especially for those who are medication treatment-resistant or where medications are not able to be used due to side effects. While the treatment is still in its infancy, it is being used with remarkable results.
TMS, by definition, uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. A large electromagnetic coil is placed against the scalp near the forehead, creating electric currents that stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain involved in mood control and depression.
To read the description of what it is and how it works may sound more like something out of a Frankenstein movie, but the reality is it works and the wonder of modern medicine is giving hope to many to suffer depression when no medication seems to work. The treatment, however, is far from barbaric. A session lasts about 40 minutes and is done in the doctor’s office, over a period of four to six weeks.
I have had TMS treatments and I have had ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) and in my opinion having TMS is a far better choice. With ECT, there is the added stress of being in the hospital, being under anesthesia and having a seizure induced. A TMS treatment, however, is simply sitting in a chair for 40 minutes and then continuing with your day. Both treatments have worked for me in the past and I am going through a “maintenance” series of TMS now, which involves a treatment every two weeks or once a month after the initial six week treatment series. The only downside to TMS is the time that it does take as treatment is five days a week for six weeks, scheduled can become a problem and the monotony of the trips do get to be a bit much after a while. At least they did for me, I am not one for schedules and I was finding it hard to get myself there after a couple weeks, I simply wanted it to be over. In the end though, it was the best thing I could have done for myself and for my illness.