The Major depressive disorder affects about 21.0 million Americans each year, or 8.4% of the U.S. adult population. Depression is slightly more prevalent in women compared to men and has the highest prevalence in young adults aged 18-25.
Individuals with depression usually experience symptoms of depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, frustration, guilt, worthlessness, decreased energy, or thoughts of death or suicide which are persistent for more than 2 weeks.
Because these symptoms affect how a person thinks and feels, depression often challenges the patient’s everyday activities, including sleeping, eating, and working. While some treatments, including medication and psychotherapy, are available, patients may require rapid relief, which can be delivered through TMS maintenance therapy, a promising treatment option for people suffering from depression.
What is TMS Maintenance Therapy?
TMS Maintenance Therapy involves periodic sessions of TMS after the initial treatment course to help sustain the therapeutic benefits. The frequency and duration of the maintenance sessions may vary depending on the individual patient’s needs and response to the initial treatment.
While TMS therapy has been proven to be effective in treating depression, it requires periodic maintenance sessions to ensure long-lasting results. The frequency and duration of TMS maintenance therapy will vary depending on the individual needs of the patient, however, these sessions will usually be shorter and less frequent than the initial course of TMS treatment.
TMS is specifically targeted at individuals with treatment-resistant depression, though it can also help patients find relief from other common mental health conditions, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, and PTSD. Patients who experience recurrent depressive episodes have a history of chronic depression, or those who cannot tolerate antidepressant medication may benefit from TMS therapy.
Eligibility for TMS and TMS maintenance therapy is determined on a case-by-case basis based on requirements set by their insurance providers. However, many providers will approve TMS coverage for patients diagnosed with clinical depression currently battling a depressive episode who have undergone failed antidepressant trials, and who have also demonstrated ineffective results via psychotherapy.
What Should I Expect During TMS Maintenance Therapy?
Typically, TMS treatment is delivered five days a week for four to six weeks. While 30% of patients experience full remission and completely resolve their depressive symptoms, one in every 2 patients will have at least a 50% reduction in their depression.
This being said, some people may experience a worsening of their symptoms in the half year to year after TMS treatment, which makes TMS Maintenance Therapy a necessary practice for upkeep.
TMS Maintenance therapy is a method by which a patient will continue TMS treatments at regular intervals, be it weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. The patient and their provider will work together to find the frequency which is best to reduce the present symptoms.
How Do I Prepare for TMS Maintenance?
A typical TMS Maintenance session lasts between 15-45 minutes, and as the procedure is painless, a TMS session is completed while the patient is awake and alert. Patients are also usually able to return to work and resume other daily activities right after treatment.
To prepare for a TMS maintenance session, patients may wish to bring items to help them feel comfortable during the session. This can include headphones to listen to music or podcasts, a bottle of water, or some medication in case of a headache during or after the procedure.
You should also come prepared with your prescription, insurance card, and a list of the medications you are taking, as you would prepare for any other doctor’s visit.
How Do Prescription Medications Interact with TMS Maintenance?
If you have other medications and treatments, you should speak with your provider before starting any new treatment and monitor your body’s response to TMS therapy. Though there is little likelihood of TMS negatively interfering with any medications you take, talking to a licensed medical health professional is a safe way to assess your current treatment and plan to introduce TMS maintenance therapy.
Though TMS is unlikely to negatively interfere with other treatments, TMS might work as an “augmentative therapy” and improve the effectiveness of the prescription medication you are currently taking. With TMS maintenance treatments that keep a patient in remission from their depression, patients may even eventually no longer need their prescription medications.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a promising treatment option for people suffering from depression who have not experienced relief from other interventions. TMS therapy is a painless procedure that uses electromagnets outside a person’s head to send signals to the brain.
The painless procedure lasts about 30 minutes and is completed while the patient is awake and alert. While TMS therapy has been proven to be effective in treating depression, it may require periodic maintenance sessions to ensure long-lasting results, known as TMS maintenance.
While eligibility for TMS is determined on a case-by-case basis, patients who experience recurrent depressive episodes, have a history of chronic depression, and who have already undergone TMS therapy, but saw a worsening in their symptoms after several months of improvements, may benefit from TMS maintenance therapy.
While the frequency and duration of TMS maintenance therapy will vary depending on the individual needs of the patient, these maintenance sessions will usually be shorter and less frequent than initial TMS treatment.
Ultimately, these periodic TMS maintenance sessions can keep patients in remission from their depressive symptoms, allowing them to successfully continue their day-to-day activities, potentially even without needing other prescription medications.