4 Ways to Prepare for a TMS Treatment

by | Sep 20, 2023

TMS treatment can be a game-changer for treating conditions like depression or anxiety. Whether you’ve heard of it and want to learn more or your doctor recommended it to you as a treatment option, you’re in the right place. 

Preparing for TMS therapy is a bit like gearing up for a journey; you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed all the essentials, know the route, and are ready for any bumps along the way. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to prepare for your TMS treatment — from initial consultations and pre-treatment assessments to day-of preparations and what to expect during and after the treatment.

Buckle up, and let’s dive in. Your roadmap to a successful TMS journey starts right here!

What Is TMS Therapy?

TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, right? But it’s actually a pretty cool and legit medical treatment. Imagine this: a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. Yep, no surgery, no anesthesia, nada. Just a magnetic coil placed near your head.

Why do we do this? Well, its primary use is for treating conditions like depression, especially when other treatments like medication and psychotherapy haven’t been effective. It’s also being explored for other conditions like anxiety, PTSD, and even chronic pain.

So, how does it work? 

The magnetic pulses stimulate specific areas of the brain that are involved in mood regulation. Think of it like jump-starting a car’s battery but for your brain. The idea is to activate those sluggish neurons and re-fire them properly. It’s all about rebalancing the brain’s chemistry and electrical activity.

The best part? It’s generally well-tolerated. You might feel a little discomfort or tingling during the procedure, but that’s about it. No systemic side effects like you’d get with medication. You’re in and out of the clinic and can go about your day as usual afterward.

Of course, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s crucial to have a thorough evaluation to see if TMS is the right fit for you. And it’s usually part of a broader treatment plan that could include medication or therapy.

4 Ways to Prepare for TMS Treatment

4 Ways to Prepare for TMS Treatment

When it comes to TMS therapy, preparation is key. Think of it like prepping for a big game or an important presentation; the more prepared you are, the better the outcome will be.

From medical assessments to medication interactions and your mental and physical state, preparing for your TMS therapy session will help you get the most out of it.

There are four primary ways you can prepare for TMS treatment. 

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Consult Your Healthcare Provider

It’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before trying something new, especially if you take medications or have underlying medical conditions that you’re worried about.

Most healthcare providers will walk you through a suitability assessment, evaluate your risk, and help you come up with a personalized treatment plan that will work best for you. This is often done in conjunction with your TMS provider.

  • Suitability assessment: Your healthcare provider will evaluate your medical history, current health status, and the nature of your symptoms to determine if TMS is a suitable treatment option. They’ll consider factors like the severity of your condition, how well you’ve responded to other treatments, and any other medical issues you might have.
  • Risk evaluation: TMS is generally safe, but like any medical procedure, it comes with its own set of risks and potential side effects. Your healthcare provider will assess whether you’re at higher risk for complications, such as if you have a history of seizures or if you have any implants that could be affected by magnetic fields.
  • Personalized treatment plan: TMS isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment. The parameters like frequency, intensity, and duration of the magnetic pulses will be adjusted to better suit your needs. Your healthcare provider will help tailor the treatment plan to maximize its effectiveness for your specific condition.
  • Medication review: If you’re already on medication for depression, anxiety, or any other condition, your healthcare provider will review these to see if any adjustments are needed. Some medications might interact with TMS, and it’s crucial to get this sorted out before starting treatment.</span
  • Setting expectations: Your healthcare provider will give you a realistic idea of what to expect from the treatment. This includes potential outcomes, the number of sessions you might need, and any side effects you should be aware of. Knowing what to expect helps you make an informed decision and prepares you mentally and emotionally for the treatment.

2. Pre-treatment Assessments

We recommend a psychiatric evaluation, a medical history review, and informed consent for pre-treatment assessments.

  • A psychiatric evaluation is a good idea to confirm your diagnosis and assess how severe your symptoms are. These evaluations involve a detailed interview and standardized questionnaires to evaluate your mental health status.
  • Reviewing your medical history and a physical examination will rule out any contraindications or potential risks.
  • Informed consent ensures you fully understand the treatment’s risks and benefits.

3. Medication and Lifestyle Adjustments

You might not need to make any changes to your medications or lifestyle. It depends on what your life looks like. But if you do need to, those changes can look something like this:

  • Antidepressants: If you’re already on antidepressants, your healthcare provider might adjust the dosage or even ask you to continue as is. The key is to avoid any interactions that could affect the TMS treatment.
  • Anti-anxiety meds: Some anti-anxiety medications have sedative effects, which might interfere with the TMS process. Consult your healthcare provider for possible adjustments.
  • Stimulants: Medications like Adderall or Ritalin can affect brain activity, so your healthcare provider might recommend adjustments to ensure the TMS treatment is effective.

4. Day-of Preparation

Here are the steps we recommend taking to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for your first — and every — TMS treatment.

  • Arrival time: Aim to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early. This gives you time to relax, complete any last-minute paperwork, and mentally prepare for the session.
  • Meal timing: Have a balanced meal about 1-2 hours before your session. You don’t want to go in hungry, but you also don’t want to be too full.
  • Bring your ID and insurance: You never know when you might need to confirm your details.
  • Bring medical records: If it’s your first session or you’ve had any recent medical changes, bring any relevant medical records or medication lists.
  • Bring comfort items: Some people like to bring comfort items like a small blanket or a stress ball. Check with the clinic to see what’s allowed.
  • Wear comfy clothes: Wear loose, comfortable clothing since you’ll be sitting for a little while.
  • Avoid facial skincare: The magnetic coil will be placed close to your scalp, so avoid using any heavy oils or creams on your head that day.
  • Hydrate: Make sure you’re well-hydrated, but avoid excessive liquids right before the session to minimize the need for bathroom breaks.
  • Avoid metal: Remember, TMS uses magnetic fields, so avoid clothing with metal zippers or buttons. Also, remove all jewelry, hairpins, and other metal objects.
  • Know what to expect: Review materials or videos explaining the TMS process. Being familiar with what’s going to happen helps reduce anxiety.
  • Relax: Consider doing some deep breathing exercises or a quick meditation session before you go in. The more relaxed you are, the smoother the treatment will go.

Medication and lifestyle adjustments

During the Treatment

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what happens during the actual TMS treatment. Think of this as your behind-the-scenes tour so you know exactly what to expect.

  • What to expect: You’ll be in a comfortable chair in a treatment room. While it is a clinical setting, many places try to make it as relaxing as possible. The magnetic coil is the key piece of equipment used for TMS treatment. It’s placed close to your scalp. Once the machine is on, you’ll feel a tapping sensation on your scalp. While it isn’t painful, it might surprise you at first. You might also hear a clicking sound during the treatment. Some clinics give you earplugs or headphones so you don’t have to listen to it.
  • Duration: Your first session will take longer because of the “brain mapping” that the technician will do to find the most effective treatment area. The length of your session will vary, depending on whether you’re doing traditional or accelerated TMS therapy.
  • Side effects: You might notice some scalp discomfort or a mild headache right after the session, but this usually subsides fairly quickly. Short-term side effects usually include feeling mildly lightheaded or fatigued. Long-term effects are extremely rare. 

Post-Treatment Care

So, you’ve crossed the finish line of your TMS session — what’s next? The post-treatment process. Let’s break it down:

  • Immediate aftercare: Right after the session, you’ll likely spend a few minutes in the treatment room or a designated area for observation. This is to make sure you’re feeling okay and not experiencing any immediate side effects. Drinking some water and having a light snack is a good idea.
  • Long-term follow-up: You’ll have regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to discuss your progress and any concerns you may have. Based on your response to the treatment will affect how your future treatments might be adjusted. This could mean changes in the frequency, intensity, or duration of the magnetic pulses.
  • Monitoring results: You’ll likely be asked to track your symptoms using standardized scales or questionnaires. This helps to objectively measure how well the treatment is working. You’ll also have regular check-ins with your healthcare provider. Even if you’re feeling great, these are crucial for long-term success. 

We’ve covered a lot of ground today, from understanding what TMS is all about to the finite details of preparing for your treatment. Remember, the journey to better mental health is a marathon, not a sprint, and TMS could be the boost you need to cross that finish line.

TMS Therapy With Brain Health Center

If you’re ready to take the next step in your mental health journey, there’s no better place to turn than Brain Health Center. Our team of experts are committed to providing personalized, effective TMS treatments tailored to your unique needs.

Don’t leave your mental well-being to chance; take control of your health today.

Whether you’re just starting to explore TMS treatment or are ready to schedule your first session, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Call us at 435.900.0123, email us at hello@brainhc.com, or visit our contact page for more information!