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Since we introduced Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy for depression at our Financial District office, we’ve received many questions about the service. We’ll be answering some of the most common questions in a weekly series on our blog. Here’s our third Q & A:
Because it is not a depression drug, TMS Therapy is free from the side effects that patients often experience when they take antidepressant medication. Neurostar® TMS Therapy is an FDA-approved device and TMS Therapy has been proven safe and effective in over 20 years of research on the treatment of depression.
TMS is well-tolerated and associated with few side effects. Only a small percentage of patients discontinue treatment because of side effects. The most common side effect, which is reported in about half of patients treated with TMS, is headaches. These are mild and generally diminish over the course of the treatment. Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to treat these headaches.
About one third of patients may experience painful scalp sensations or facial twitching with TMS pulses. These too tend to diminish over the course of treatment although adjustments can be made immediately in coil positioning and stimulation settings to reduce discomfort.
The TMS machine produces a loud noise and because of this earplugs or headphones are given to the patient to use during the treatment. However, some patients may still complain of hearing problems immediately following treatment. No evidence suggests these effects are permanent if earplugs are worn during the treatment.
TMS has not been associated with many of the side effects caused by antidepressant medications, such as gastrointestinal upset, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, or sedation.
The most serious risk of TMS is seizures. However, the risk of a seizure is exceedingly low.
For more information about TMS Therapy services at Commonwealth Psychology Associates, click here.
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