Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy represents a revolutionary treatment for depression patients. The therapy involves the use of electromagnetic pulses delivered to a patient’s brain,stimulating neural activity to help reduce depression symptoms and improve mood.
To date, studies have shown that TMS therapy can help depression patients reduce or even eliminate their symptoms. Many patients choose to undergo TMS therapy because it is noninvasive, and does not cause the side effects commonly associated with antidepressants, shock therapy, and other treatments for depression.
Achieve TMS is a leading provider of TMS therapy in the United States. Dr. Chaitanya Pabbati, a licensed and board-certified psychiatrist at Achieve TMS, promotes a multimodal approach to mental health that includes TMS therapy, psychotherapy, and medication management, along with an emphasis on understanding life fulfillment.
Recently, Dr. Pabbati shared his thoughts on the use of TMS to help patients coping with depression. Here are Dr. Pabbati’s responses to some of the most frequently asked questions about TMS.
Q: What are the differences in patient outcomes and experiences with TMS as opposed to medication exclusively?
A: The primary difference that I see for patients with TMS is that the process of undergoing treatment is far better tolerated than medications are for many people. The side effects with medications can range from mild to severe in intensity, while overall, TMS is tolerated extremely well with few exceptions.
Q: Please share a few patient stories that have shaped your perspective on TMS.
A: I have had the pleasure of working with many patients who have struggled to achieve consistent, high-quality results with medications. When they started TMS, they did so cautiously. For many of them, TMS ended up becoming a turning point not just in their mental health, but in their lives. It has helped them experience improvement in their symptoms, and in some cases, a complete resolution, which they had given up hope on having.
Q: What is the durability of TMS, and how long do you see its impact lasting for your patients?
A: Most of my patients don’t come back to us, which I take as a good sign! One of the challenges with TMS is that it has not been around nearly long enough to make conclusions about what will happen over the decades following a course of treatment. The current thinking is that TMS will help many patients lay a healthy foundation upon which they can develop strategies to maintain the improvement that TMS brings.
Q: Is there anything that patients can do to support the effectiveness of TMS treatment? What can referring providers do?
A: The main thing we look for is consistency. It is important for patients to be present for each treatment session, maintain a consistent regimen outside of sessions, and communicate clearly with the TMS team about any changes in their mental and physical health. For referring providers, what we value most is a thorough history of what the patients have previously tried and how they tolerated treatment.
Q: Do you think fear or concern about TMS treatment is warranted? And why or why not?
A: All medical treatments should be carefully considered before starting. A discussion of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to TMS is a standard part of our initial consultation and evaluation. My personal belief, and what I have seen, is that TMS is largely very well tolerated.
Q: How do you address patients who express fear or trepidation about TMS treatment?
A: The main thing I do when patients express concerns is try to understand what their fears are and where they are rooted. For the most part, a lot of the concerns stem from misinformation about mental illnesses and the treatments for them.
Q: Would you pursue TMS treatment for a loved one who was suffering from treatment-resistant depression?
A: Absolutely! One of the reasons TMS is a good option for patients is because it is a truly novel intervention. Instead of adjusting neurotransmitter levels and signaling pathways, TMS works through a different mechanism – activating and stimulating nerve cells in order to combat the symptoms of depression. This novel method, coupled with the favorable risk profile, makes it a great option for all patients, especially those with treatment-resistant depression
Q: What is your top advice for patients who are about to begin TMS treatment?
A: Don’t lose hope. For many patients who look into TMS, their journey to improving their mental health has been a complicated one. TMS is a novel and newly developed option that has the potential to change the course of their lives.
Q: What is your best advice for providers considering prescribing TMS treatment?
A: Talk to others who have prescribed it, and to their patients. TMS, like all new treatments, has been viewed with some apprehension. But time has shown that TMS is a novel, safe, and effective treatment for depression.
Schedule a Free TMS Therapy Consultation
Dr. Pabbati and the Achieve TMS team are available to meet with a patient to discuss TMS treatment options and provide answers to frequently asked questions about TMS. To schedule a free TMS therapy consultation, please contact us online, or call or text us at 877-261-3391.