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  • What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

    What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

    What is TMS therapy?

    Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific regions of the brain. It’s commonly used in the field of neuroscience and psychiatry to investigate the function of the brain and treat various psychiatric and neurological conditions. Specifically, it has been found useful in treating depression that does not respond to medication or psychotherapy alone.

    Why is TMS used?

    In addition to treating depression, TMS has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other brain-related conditions, according to Cleveland Clinic. In depression, TMS is thought to help regulate brain activity in the areas involved in mood regulation, leading to an improvement in symptoms.

    TMS is also being investigated as a potential treatment for neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. In these conditions, TMS is thought to help stimulate damaged or under-active regions of the brain and improve brain function.

    Does TMS work?

    According to research, 50% to 60% of people with depression who have tried and failed to receive benefit from medications and talk therapy alone experience a clinically meaningful response with TMS. About one-third of these individuals experience a full remission, which means they no longer experience symptoms of depression. However, it’s important to point out that TMS results are not permanent. Like many other treatments consistency is key. That being said, most TMS patients feel better for many months after treatment stops, with the average length of response being a little more than a year. Some will opt to come back for subsequent rounds of treatment, according to Harvard Health.

    Is TMS painful?

    Nope! Common side effects are headache after session and soreness on scalp from the physical device. But the therapy itself is painless.

    TMS therapy is an intensive treatment option though that often require sessions that occur five days a week for several weeks at a time. Each session can last from 20 to 50 minutes, depending on the device and clinical protocol being used.

    Here’s how it works, according to Harvard Health:

    “When patients arrive, they may briefly check in with a technician or doctor and then begin the stimulation process,” Dr. Adam P. Stern writes. “The technician will determine the ideal stimulation intensity and anatomical target by taking advantage of a “landmark” in the brain called the motor cortex. By first targeting this part of the brain, the team can determine where best to locate the stimulation coil as it relates to that individual’s brain and how intensely it must “fire” in order to achieve adequate stimulation. Calculations are then applied to translate this data toward finding the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the brain target with the greatest evidence of clinical effectiveness and an area known to be involved in depression. Though one session may be enough to change the brain’s level of excitability, relief isn’t usually noticeable until the third, fourth, fifth, or even sixth week of treatment.”

    Overall, TMS is a promising and innovative field with potential applications in a wide range of psychiatric and neurological conditions. If you believe TMS could be an option for you, reach out to our intake team here at Mind Body Co-op at We will offer TMS therapy at our new office in the Lakeview neighborhood on Chicago’s north side starting in spring 2023.

    Mind Body Co-op is Chicago’s only space for individuals to discover, explore, and heal what is occurring internally at the cognitive, emotional, and physical levels. This unique, holistic approach to treatment and wellness is born out of the belief that examining the cognitive, emotional, and physical pieces and how they intersect helps lead to uncovering your full potential by providing thoughtful, collaborative, and complete integrative mental health care. We offer a variety of clinical services, including individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, psychological/neuropsychological assessments, medication management, DBT, adventure therapy, therapeutic yoga, and more. We provide culturally-competent services in English, Spanish, French, Polish, and Arabic. Learn more.

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