Of course, you want to know the risks associated with TMS…
It’s normal. No one wants to do anything that could potentially make the situation worse.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive therapy in which we use a magnet to target and stimulate certain portions of your brain to treat depression, OCD, PTSD, or anxiety.
Although this form of brain stimulation therapy has been around since 1985 and was approved as a treatment of depression by the FDA in 2008, many people are hearing about it for the first time!
If that’s you, you may be wondering about potential TMS risks.
Should you expect side effects if you opt for TMS therapy? What are the short- and long-term risks associated with TMS?
Risks or Side Effects of TMS Therapy?
The vast majority of patients who undergo TMS experience no side effects or very mild ones.
If you do experience a side effect, it’s most likely to be temporary discomfort at the treatment site. Other common side effects include:
- Mild headaches
- Tingling sensation in the scalp, jaw, or face
Most patients who experience one or more of these symptoms find the side effects dissipate in one to two weeks.
Rarely do patients experience anything acutely enough to discontinue treatment sessions.
TMS is non-systemic, which means any side effects are contained in the treatment area and are not widespread throughout the body.
Risks Associated with TMS
Since TMS therapy utilizes a strong magnet, the most notable risk is to those who have any form of metal implanted in or near their head or neck, whether by accident or by design.
Here are some examples of metal in or around your head that might exclude you from TMS treatments:
- Aneurysm clips
- Any medical implant containing metal
- Cochlear implants
- Metal stents
- Pacemakers or ICDs
- Shrapnel or bullet fragments
- Tattoos containing magnetic or magnet-sensitive ink
Patient care dictates that no one fitting these criteria is a good candidate for TMS.
The proximity of the metal to the magnetic pulses could cause possibly life-threatening reactions.
If you are uncertain whether you have an implant that could disqualify you from treatment, talk to your doctor.
Long-Term Risks of TMS
You may be wondering whether prolonged exposure to TMS treatment will cause any negative effects down the road.
The FDA has approved TMS treatments for depression and OCD, and clinical studies have been conducted to research long-term TMS risks.
No adverse effects have been associated with long-term TMS therapy.
The magnetic fields utilized in TMS are similar to those in MRIs, but TMS treatment uses only a small fraction of the magnetic field exposure you would experience in an MRI brain scan.
Even if you received several chronic, acute TMS sessions, the total amount of exposure would equal less than a few MRI sessions.
There have not been demonstrated negative effects of repetitive MRIs.
For this same reason, there is no evidence to show TMS can cause brain tumors.
Clinical studies also explored whether long-term magnetic field exposure to TMS therapy can cause memory loss or negative effects on concentration.
None of these systematic evaluations showed any negative impact on memory or concentration.
Side Effects of Other Depression Treatments
One major advantage TMS has over other major depression treatments, particularly anti-depressant medications, is its lack of life-altering side effects.
While any negative effects of TMS generally decrease after a patient’s first week of treatment, the side effects of anti-depressants can last through the course of treatment.
They may also worsen as the dosage is increased.
Adverse effects of anti-depressant medications include:
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
If you have tried antidepressant medications to treat your major depression, you’re probably aware of how uncomfortable and frustrating the side effects can be. Transcranial magnetic stimulation could be a safer treatment option with milder—to no—side effects.
To learn more about TMS risks and side effects, contact Success TMS at 855-943-3232