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What You Need to Know About TMS Dips in Therapy

Updated: Mar 25

What You Need to Know About TMS Dips in Therapy

Millions of people worldwide battle depression daily, affecting their lives in various ways, from oversleeping to canceling plans. Traditional treatments combine medication and therapy, often effectively managing depression's impact. However, some with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) don't respond to these methods, affecting 10-30% of depression patients. For TRD individuals, non-traditional therapies like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) offer hope.

TMS therapy can be a promising alternative when medication and therapy fall short in alleviating the symptoms of depression. Here’s what you need to know about it.

How TMS Therapy Works

TMS therapy is an FDA-approved depression treatment that uses a magnetic coil on the patient's head to target brain areas, reducing symptoms. It's painless and low risk. TMS works by creating new neural pathways. In depression, neurons are often underactive. Magnetic waves activate these neurons, releasing helpful neurotransmitters for brain rewiring. Most people see quick improvements, but some encounter a temporary dip in progress, which is normal. The brain adjusts during TMS, causing the dip. Continuing treatment is vital, as around the fourth or fifth week, mood improvements usually appear, and sessions decrease.

Defining TMS Dips

During TMS therapy, several patients may experience a phase known as a "TMS dip," where their symptoms temporarily worsen around the second or third session. This can be disheartening, but it's a normal part of the process. TMS therapy aims to reshape brain pathways to alleviate symptoms like sadness and lethargy, but this transformation takes time. A TMS dip happens because of this rewiring process. It doesn't mean TMS isn't working, it just indicates that more time and sessions are needed for the brain to effectively rewire itself and improve symptoms.

What a TMS Dip Looks Like

Similar to antidepressants, TMS therapy may have a temporary setback in progress, known as a "TMS dip." It's common to initially feel better, so a dip can be puzzling. The dip happens because TMS rewires the brain, targeting the prefrontal cortex and disrupting its usual function. As the brain adapts and forms new pathways, you might experience a dip in progress. This phase can be discouraging, but it's typical and doesn't mean TMS isn't effective. It indicates more time and sessions are needed for successful rewiring. Notify your medical team if you encounter a dip; they can adjust your plan. Typically, improvements emerge in the fourth and fifth weeks, leading to reduced sessions.

When to Consider TMS Therapy

TMS therapy suits patients who have not found relief from standard depression treatments, such as antidepressants or psychotherapy. It's especially beneficial for those dealing with treatment-resistant depression or challenging side effects from antidepressants. However, individuals with certain metal or medical devices like aneurysm clips, cochlear implants, or facial tattoos with magnetic ink may not be suitable candidates. Patients with neurological conditions or a seizure risk like epilepsy or Parkinson's disease should inform their doctor due to a slightly increased seizure risk associated with TMS therapy.

Inquire About TMS Therapy with Lighthouse Psychiatry Today

At Lighthouse Psychiatry, we have extensive expertise in depression treatment. Our commitment ensures that every patient receives optimal care. If you or a loved one requires TMS therapy, reach out to us today.

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