Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a revolutionary treatment for depression and related mental health conditions. Using painless magnetic pulses transmitted through the scalp, TMS stimulates nerve cells in areas of the brain associated with mood control, boosting activity and minimizing symptoms of depression. The non-invasive procedure only takes about 20-40 minutes per session, and after an initial schedule of frequent sessions, maintenance therapy is only needed once every few weeks or months. 

While TMS is most beneficial for patients with treatment-resistant depression, bipolar disorder, and other conditions, not everyone is a good candidate. If you are interested in this unique mental health treatment, here are some of the qualifying factors that will determine whether you’re a good candidate for TMS:

Treatment-resistant depression

A combination of medication and psychotherapy works for many patients diagnosed with depression, but not all. Treatment-resistant depression is diagnosed after the patient has tried at least two different antidepressant medications from different classes without a positive response. Fortunately for such patients, TMS has been shown to improve outcomes and even help patients achieve remission. While research is ongoing into whether TMS improves the efficacy of medications, there is ample evidence it improves the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

Medication avoidance

Even when antidepressant medication is effective, patients often have compelling reasons to avoid it. Most antidepressants feature a variety of side effects ranging from mild to severe, including: 

  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Increased anxiety or irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction or loss of libido

Patients wishing to avoid such conditions have found good results with TMS, relieving symptoms of depression without the unwanted side effects.

Conditions beyond depression

TMS is most commonly used for patients diagnosed with depression, but it is also effective with other mental health conditions. Patients with bipolar disorder, which is characterized by alternating episodes of depression and mania, have found substantial improvement with TMS’s effect on their depressive symptoms. TMS is also considered by the FDA as an “adjunct treatment” for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Complicating factors for TMS treatment 

Before being recommended for TMS treatment in San Diego, patients will need to undergo a full physical and psychiatric evaluation to ensure they are good candidates. Some complicating factors that could disqualify patients from the treatment include:

  • Pregnancy or nursing
  • Substance abuse
  • Neurological conditions such as seizures 
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Implanted medical devices or metal in the cranium
  • Previous brain damage from injury or illness

Another requirement for TMS is that patients must be currently battling a depressive episode, with the duration of the episode documented with coordinating dates.

TMS treatment in San Diego

If you have been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, or another condition that could possibly benefit from transcranial magnetic stimulation, Pacific Health Systems offers TMS procedures and other high-quality, cost-effective mental health treatments. To find out if you’re a good candidate for TMS or for more information about the procedure and its benefits, call us at (619) 267-9257.