Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve pulled some of the most frequently asked questions and compiled them into one place. Should you have any other questions that we may have missed, contact us and we will do our best to help you.
What happens in a TMS treatment?
The first session involves measurements that decide where to place the magnetic coil and the strength of the magnetic pulse. This usually takes no more than 20 minutes. This is immediately followed by your first treatment. The second treatment is the next day and for each week-day for 30 treatments. The treatment involves you sitting comfortably in a treatment chair (like a dental chair). A cap is placed on your head for hygiene. Also, a mark is placed on the cap to identify the location where your treatment will occur. This avoids marking your head. Then, the magnetic coil is placed on this mark and the treatment begins.
What benefit can I expect from a TMS treatment?
We have seen people come into a session crying with anxious agitation only to be smiling and relaxed just a few minutes later. Many describe the treatment as very relaxing. The scientific literature says that the benefit is seen by the 16th session. Our experience and the experience of the vast number of doctors doing TMS is that benefit is seen within the first few sessions. This is usually in the form of decreased anxiety, improved ability to manage stress and a more rapid rebound in the event they do get overwhelmed. These benefits continue to expand and deepen over time as the anti-depressant effects and the cognitive improvement benefits of TMS emerge. Over time, you begin to have a fuller range of appropriate emotions and better control of your emotions. Sadness is no longer your baseline feeling. You become capable of real hope, joy and laughter.
How long is TMS treatment?
There are two core TMS treatments for depression that the FDA has approved. One is a little under 4 minutes long. The other is between 19-39 minutes long. Depending on your needs one of these will be chosen. All of these treatment protocols require 30 core treatments that occur 5 days a week for 6 weeks. This core treatment is followed by 6 “booster” sessions to reinforce the benefits and can be arranged at your convenience. Because so many people have significant anxiety with their depression, Dr. Woodall offers for free an anxiety treatment in addition to the depression treatment that is enormously relaxing and makes the depression treatment more effective. To be clear, you will have to be available week-days for about 20 minutes for 6 weeks for the core treatment.
What are the most common side effects of TMS?
TMS therapy is free from the common side effects experienced with antidepressant medications such as weight gain, agitation, sedation and sexual dysfunction. TMS treatment has virtually no side effects. Rarely, someone may have a headache or sensitivity at the treatment site. In the exceedingly rare times when this happens, it is short lived and poses no after-effects. Compare that to antidepressant medications that sees up to 80% of patients develop sexual side effects, 22% with sleep disturbance, 25% with daytime sedation, 25% with weight gain, 2-4% develop suicidal thinking. TMS has none of these and is more effective in treating depression!
Is TMS shock therapy?
No. Not at all. TMS is very different from ECT (“Shock Treatment”). ECT uses an electric current to cause a therapeutic seizure. To receive ECT, you must go to the hospital and be put under anesthesia. After ECT, you have to stay in the hospital to make sure you are ok to drive. ECT can cause headaches. A significant percentage of ECT patients have memory problems after the treatment is done.
TMS is very different. It uses a gentle magnetic pulse, not an electric current. You are awake for the entire treatment and can immediately drive and return to your day after treatment. There are no memory problems from TMS. (In fact, TMS can IMPROVE memory.)
Yes. Most insurance carriers cover TMS treatment. Be aware that Newtown TMS is not in network for either Medicare or Medicaid/Husky. This means that if you have Medicare or Medicaid/Husky we will not be able to provide TMS treatment for you. Remember that your health insurance may require that you have already met your deductible before your insurance coverage begins, and there may be significant copays depending on your insurance policy. Be sure to speak with our billing office to help you figure out if TMS is something affordable for you. If the need is significant and your budget is limited, in some cases we can work out a payment arrangement to be sure that you get the care you need.
Is TMS Covered by Insurance?
Do I qualify for TMS treatment?
While you may clinically benefit from TMS, the question is will your insurance pay for it. We will do all we can to advocate for you to your insurance company. Your insurance may require that you have tried 2 and possibly 4 antidepressant medications with limited benefit to qualify for TMS. Some insurance companies also want to see that you have tried "adjunctive" medications on top of your antidepressants, again with limited benefit. More and more, insurance companies are also requiring that you have tried psychotherapy without success before they authorize the treatment. Talk to our staff about ways to help you get the care you deserve.
Will I still need medication if I have TMS treatment?
It depends. Some patients can have their medications lowered or even stopped as a result of TMS. With TMS along with the other 6 levels of care Newtown TMS provides for you, the odds of you improving are significantly increased. The odds of the benefit of the treatment lasting longer are also increased. Everyone is different and we can’t promise you that you will come off your medication if you have TMS treatment. Although this is entirely possible. Our first goal is to help you feel better. We want to do that with as few side-effects as possible, preferably none, and with the fewest number of medications possible.