Dan Friday describes what TMS is like as a treatment
How do you describe TMS to a patient who is interested in pursuing treatment and having TMS as one of their options?
I talk to everybody about TMS – not just patients – because I’m just trying to get the word out and I’m kind of fortunate in that – I’m not a doctor, I’m an administrator – but I’ve had a significant amount of training and experience with it so I’ll basically explain it to them saying it‘s a non medication treatment. It uses a focused pulse magnetic field delivered to your dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that we know to be low activity in patients with depression.
Unlike every other medication out there, which only affects neurotransmitters on a chemical level and comes with a host of side effects, TMS is the only thing that actually stimulates the neural activity directly without having to manipulate it through chemicals. The side effects might only have a very limited discomfort at the site during the treatment, maybe a headache after, but other than that, there are no systemic side effects that come with doing TMS. So I think most patients and people are fascinated to hear that that’s an alternative. It’s not a treatment that’s common knowledge, at least in my experience.