man preparing for TMS therapy

How to Prepare for TMS

While medication and therapy work for many patients with depression, these treatments are not 100 percent effective. For example, someone may not react well to medication and need treatment in addition to therapy. As such, some people with depression must turn to alternative treatment methods. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a clinically-proven way to treat depression in these cases.

If you’re preparing to start TMS with LifeStance Health, you may have a lot of questions. While it may sound scary, TMS is safe. Making a few preparations can make your session as easy as possible.

What is TMS?

TMS therapy involves the painless stimulation of a person’s brain. Technicians use electromagnets on the outside of the head to send signals into the brain. Each session lasts approximately 30 minutes. Patients have about five sessions per week for four to six weeks.

Most importantly, it is entirely painless for most patients. In some cases, patients feel slightly uncomfortable if the treatment team increases the signal too quickly. If this happens, you can tell the technician, and they can turn it down.

Some people confuse TMS with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). While the techniques sound similar, they are quite different for the patient. TMS is typically painless, while ECT can cause significant pain.

Reach Out to Friends and Family

Your support system can be incredibly valuable during your treatment. They may not understand what TMS is, so try to explain it. Be sure they know that it is not the same thing as ECT and that it is effective for many patients.

You may see if someone can drive you to the first session. In some cases, people experience headaches after their first few treatments. If this happens to you, you may not feel like driving back after the session. Furthermore, it can help to have some moral support if you are nervous.

If you would like, your support person may be able to go back to the treatment room with you. Otherwise, they can stay in the waiting room or run errands for 30 minutes.

What to Bring on the Day Of

On the day of your treatment, make sure you bring anything you need to make you feel comfortable during the session. Many patients bring headphones and listen to either music or podcasts during TMS. You may also want to bring a bottle of water and some medicine just in case you get a headache. Finally, make sure to write down any medications you take and their dosages, just in case you need to tell your treatment team.

Is TMS Right for You?

Take our online assessment to see if TMS is right for you.

If you have any questions about TMS, please reach out to a LifeStance Health clinic near you. We will help make you feel as comfortable as possible before, during, and after your TMS sessions.

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