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How Does a TMS Result Show?

This article will explain exactly how transcranial magnetic stimulation results show after treatment has been administered. Learn more here.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Results

Article Contents

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Mechanism of Action

If you are learning about all of the wonderful benefits of TMS, then you may be curious about how you’ll see the results of TMS therapy. TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, is gaining traction as a treatment for several different diseases and disorders. If you are curious about the effects of TMS, and understanding what transcranial magnetic stimulation results mean, read on.

How Does It Work?

TMS works by using magnetic frequencies targeted at specific portions of the brain. As these magnetic waves are sent towards the brain, they cause electromagnetic induction to take place. When this process happens, the electric activity in the brain is stimulated, often providing desired effects like rejuvenation and a prolonged cortical silent period.1  

By providing these factors, signals in the brain are altered in a way that benefits the patient. By targeting specific areas of the brain, as well as using different frequencies, several therapies can be achieved through TMS.

Who Should Avoid TMS Therapy?

Before receiving TMS therapy, you should always speak with your healthcare provider. They can assist in guiding you in your interest in TMS therapy. However, there is a list of individuals that cannot receive TMS therapy. These individuals include:1  
  • Patients who have metal plates in their heads, or implanted devices in or around their head
  • Any patient with electronic implanted devices in their body
  • Patients who have undergone a seizure, or have had a medical change that makes them more susceptible to seizures
Because TMS relies on magnetic frequencies, any items containing metals will be affected by the treatment itself, which can prove dangerous. Additionally, TMS is a form of stimulation therapy, making those who are susceptible to seizures more likely to have one during the procedure.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Results

Most common asked questions in regards to TMS results

As with any other form of treatment, you want to see results quickly, regardless of what you are being treated for. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions in regards to TMS results.

How Long Does It Take to See Results from TMS?

When you are undergoing TMS therapy, you may see results in as little as two weeks. These are some of the fastest results available to patients who choose to use TMS. In many other instances, results are seen in anywhere from four to five weeks.2  Just because you are not seeing results in a short period, it doesn’t mean that the treatment is ineffective. There are a number of factors that can affect TMS, including:

  • Age: In most cases, younger patients see results faster
  • Personality: Higher persistence scores on the temperament and character inventory questionnaire tend to indicate a faster response to TMS
  • Brain Activity: Higher brain activity levels prior to therapy have indicated a faster response to TMS
  • Resistance to Treatment: Patients who are less resistant to TMS treatment show a faster response to it in most cases
  • Combined Treatment Efforts: Some patients see a faster response to TMS when prescribed a medication alongside the therapy

What Are Some Results of TMS?

When looking for real-world results of TMS therapy, evidence can be found in numerous studies. One such example comes from a sample of patients using TMS as a form of therapy for OCD. In the study, patients suffering from OCD saw a reduction of their symptoms after receiving twenty or fewer TMS therapy sessions. Keep in mind, this seems like a long time, but the results of TMS are long-lasting, as well.3   

What is the Success Rate of TMS Therapy?

In general, most TMS providers find that the therapy sees a success rate of anywhere from 70% to 80% of all of their patients. Over half see complete remission of their issues as well. You might be wondering how you can tell if the therapy is working. Often, it takes about four weeks to notice any significant changes. However, at about that period, positive effects on behavior will be noticeable.

When comparing TMS to other therapies, you will often see it compared to ECT and antidepressants. When comparing TMS to ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, short-term results are about the same in terms of the success rate. However, lasting results are rarely seen with ECT treatments. Antidepressants see a far lower success rate, only reaching true success with patients between 50% and 65% of the time.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Side Effects and Risk Factors

As with any other medical treatment, it is essential to take a look at the rundown of side effects and risk factors for TMS. It should be mentioned that side effects are fairly uncommon for TMS therapy. However, some of the most common side effects are:

  • Mild headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Scalp pain
  • Neck pain
  • Tingling
  • Facial twitching
  • Drowsiness

These are among the most common reported side effects. Some of the severe side effects possible include altered cognition during treatment.

For the most part, there are no real side effects to TMS therapy. When it comes to risk factors, the risk for seizures is present, as mentioned before. The risk is low, though, with a 0.1% chance of developing seizures during treatment.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Benefits

TMS therapy can provide benefits for a large number of disorders. These include the following:4   

  • Depression: An improvement in mood and less reliance on antidepressants
  • OCD: Reduced symptoms related to OCD
  • Anxiety: Ease of anxiety symptoms related to other disorders, or from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • PTSD: Reduced symptoms related to PTSD, making them more manageable
  • Schizophrenia: Reduced instances of psychotic behavior and comorbid mental health disorders
  • Chronic Pain: TMS can reduce pain intensity associated with disorders like fibromyalgia, thus reducing exhaustion
  • Addiction: Therapies have been shown to reduce substance cravings in patients suffering from addiction disorders

As you can see, TMS has applications in a large number of different disorders that are based in the brain. As such, it can be used as an alternative, or in addition to, traditional treatments.

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