How Many TMS Treatments Are Needed?

A skilled TMS clinician can help you understand how many TMS treatments are needed to begin your recovery.

Table of Contents

Understanding TMS

There are two types of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy: repetitive (rTMS) and deep (dTMS). The success rate for either type varies based on several factors that are unique to the patient, such as genetics or any co-occurring disorders. TMS is most commonly used to help treat depression, especially for those who have not had success with other forms of treatment.

How Many TMS Treatments are Needed

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The Success Rate for TMS

Several studies on TMS therapy state that approximately 50-60% of patients who completed a full course of TMS treatment saw an improvement in their depression symptoms.1

Other studies on rTMS for depression indicate that up to 58% of patients experienced a reduction in their symptoms after 30 sessions. The same study showed that 36% of individuals reported complete symptom remission after the same time frame. While 30 sessions is the average amount of time, working with your healthcare provider to find out how many TMS treatments are needed for your symptoms is necessary.2

TMS Therapy Overview

Data from similar studies on dTMS, which uses a stronger magnetic coil than rTMS, show that dTMS generally offers a reduction in depression symptoms over a shorter period of time.3

TMS treatments are a safe, noninvasive way to target specific areas of the brain that affect mood. Although many people report success with TMS, its effects are temporary. Most patients report symptoms that remain in control or remission for approximately one year after their last session. However, TMS can be utilized multiple times if symptoms arise again.

How Many TMS Treatments Are Needed?

TMS treatments use magnetic fields to stimulate brain areas that control and regulate mood. This is why TMS helps to manage depression, anxiety, and other mood disorder symptoms that other therapy models could not improve. To achieve the best results, TMS requires several treatments spaced out over multiple weeks. 

Your provider will work with you to determine how many TMS treatments are needed to help you achieve your specific needs and goals. The ideal duration of TMS treatment is unique to one’s individual needs. For some, a series of 30 sessions over six weeks is adequate, while for others, 40 sessions over seven to eight weeks are necessary.

Factors That Determine TMS Treatment Frequency

Although there are recommended treatment durations, no precise number of treatments is ideal for every case. It is crucial to work with your treatment team to determine if TMS is the right choice, along with how many TMS treatments are needed. They will also recommend a course of treatment to help you achieve your treatment needs and goals.

Several factors affect how TMS may benefit you and how many TMS treatments are needed. They include:4
  • The severity of symptoms: If your symptoms are severe or previous treatments have failed, this may impact how well TMS works for you. 
  • Past and current medication history: TMS therapy is often only considered after standard mental health treatments did not help reduce depression symptoms. 
  • Past and current diagnoses: Although TMS treatments are primarily used to address depression, they have shown effectiveness for other conditions, such as OCD
  • Possible contraindications: TMS treatments have few side effects and are considered safe for most people. However, there are certain instances where TMS is not recommended, such as if an individual has a history of seizure disorders, implanted metal, permanent piercings, or aneurism clips. 

How You Prepare for a TMS Therapy

TMS treatments are noninvasive and generally well tolerated by most people, so minimal preparation is required before a TMS session. There is also no extensive recovery after treatment. Because of this, it is possible to incorporate a TMS session into your daily routine. 
No anesthesia, medication, or support person is necessary. To ensure TMS treatment is the best option, along with how many TMS treatments are needed, your provider will conduct two exams before your first session.5

Physical Exam

A physical exam consisting of labs and other tests is used to assess any possible medical concerns that could contribute to your symptoms. It is also essential to ensure there are no physical concerns that could mean TMS treatment is unsuitable for your needs.

Psychiatric Evaluation

In addition to a medical assessment, your provider will conduct a psychiatric evaluation. This evaluation focuses on learning more about your mental health and how your depression symptoms affect you daily. 

Your provider will also need to rule out any co-occurring conditions that could contribute to your symptoms or lead to negative side effects from TMS treatment. 

What You Can Expect

TMS treatments are conducted in outpatient environments such as our treatment facility at Profound Treatment. A skilled and experienced provider conducts each TMS session and will also work with you to determine how many TMS treatments are needed.

Your First Treatment

At the beginning of your first session, your provider will measure your head to determine the proper size for the magnetic coil. They will also conduct other assessments to ensure each session is personalized for your needs. Removing all metal and other objects sensitive to magnets is also necessary. You will receive a set of noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to reduce the noise of the TMS device.6

During Each Treatment

Each TMS session lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. Throughout the session, you may hear a series of clicking sounds. Most people also feel a light tapping or thumping sensation near the coil.

After Each Treatment

Side effects after TMS treatments are rare. The most common side effect is a mild headache. One of the key advantages of TMS therapy is the ability to return to your daily activities immediately after your session ends.

Get Help at Profound

If you or a loved one have sought treatment for depression but have not had luck with reducing your symptoms, TMS treatment may help you start your recovery journey. Our highly-qualified team at Profound can help you determine how many TMS treatments are needed to help you put the challenges of chronic depression in the past. 

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about TMS treatment and other treatment opportunities, don’t hesitate to reach out to our admissions team; we are eager to guide you towards long-term, sustainable healing.

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