TMS Therapy - Patient Instructions
Now that you have been prescribed NeuroStar TMS Therapy, it is important to understand what you can expect during treatment. On treatment days, you can perform normal daily activities prior to treatment, including driving to the psychiatrist’s office. Before beginning treatment, your psychiatrist will decide whether you need to discontinue or continue taking any current antidepressant medications.
The First Treatment
Your first treatment with the NeuroStar system could last up to an hour and a half. You will be provided and asked to wear protective earplugs, as the system emits a tapping sound during operation.
Your psychiatrist will first perform a test to identify your motor threshold. The motor threshold is the amount of magnetic field strength applied that results in an involuntary movement of your right thumb. This test is important because it identifies the magnetic field strength which will be used in your treatment. This field strength is customized for each patient to deliver the correct treatment dose.
After this initial procedure, the doctor will determine the place on the head where the TMS treatment will be applied and the coil will be moved to that location. The physician will then administer TMS Therapy over a 40-minute period. In 30-second intervals, the device will deliver rapid "pulses" of the magnetic fields which will feel like a tapping sensation on your scalp. Some patients find this tapping to be uncomfortable. If so, your physician may be able to make adjustments to reduce this discomfort. During the 40-minute treatment session, you can relax in the treatment chair. You can also speak with the system operator whenever necessary. After the treatment session, you can immediately return to your normal routine, including driving.
Subsequent Treatment Sessions
Most future treatment sessions will last approximately 40 minutes; however, your psychiatrist may periodically repeat the motor threshold test. This test will increase the time for that particular treatment session.
What to Expect from NeuroStar TMS Therapy
During or after treatment you may experience headache or pain at the site of stimulation. These are common side effects which often improve as further treatment sessions are administered. If necessary, you can treat this pain with an over-the-counter analgesic. If these side effects persist, your doctor can reduce the strength of the magnetic field pulses being administered, in order to make treatment more comfortable.
In clinical trials, most patients who benefitted from NeuroStar TMS Therapy experienced results by the fourth week of treatment. Some patients may experience results in less time, while others may take longer. You should discuss your depression symptoms with your physician throughout the treatment course and, if symptoms persist, consider other antidepressant options.