What to Expect
Free Initial Consultation
The first step in the TMS treatment process is determining whether or not TMS is an appropriate treatment for you. Southern California TMS Center offers a free initial screening with our intake specialist to determine if you may be a candidate for treatment. During this consultation, we will review your symptoms, treatment history, and possible treatment options. When you contact the Southern California TMS Center, our staff will schedule this evaluation.
“While the exact cause of depression is not known, the leading scientific theory is that depression is caused by an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitters.”
Your first treatment session
If TMS is right for you, an initial treatment session will be scheduled and will last about 2 hours. At this first visit, Dr. Hutton or one of our psychiatrists will determine the appropriate placement and energy settings of the treatment coil. Placement of the treatment coil and the strength of the magnetic field are important factors in successful TMS treatment. In order to do this, a test is done to determine what is called the motor threshold. A magnetic pulse will be repeatedly given to find the strength that is just enough to result in a movement of the fingers of your right hand. From there, the coil is moved forward to the left frontal lobe, specifically the Dorsal Lateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC) and the energy levels are then adjusted.
The usual treatment session lasts 40-60 minutes. As you sit reclined, awake and alert, the TMS device delivers 40 rapid MRI strength magnetic pulses over 4 seconds. The pulses make a loud clicking sound, and ear protection or ear plugs are required. The pulses feel like a tapping on the scalp but without the sensation of anything touching the skin. The same 4 second sequence is repeated 2-3 times a minute. During the session you can watch television, listen to music, or simply sit back and relax.
Treatment sessions are then repeated by our trained TMS Technicians each day using the settings initially determined by Dr. Hutton. A standard course of treatment involves sessions 5 days a week for 6 weeks, although this can vary depending on a patient’s response to treatment. A tapering set of treatments is sometimes used to ensure your improvement. As you progress through your therapy, Dr. Hutton, and the TMS Staff will regularly assess your progress and determine the eventual number of treatments.
After the procedure
After the treatment, you can drive and resume your normal day. TMS is non-invasive, meaning it does not involve surgery, and also non-systemic, meaning no drugs are used, and therefore no drug side effects. Typical TMS side effects are irritation or discomfort at the treatment site, or headache, and are usually mild. Rarely a seizure may occur during treatment.