Does Frequency of TMS Sessions Matter?

Does Frequency of TMS Sessions Matter?

“Does frequency of TMS sessions matter?” According to researchers, nonadherence to the standard five-sessions-per-week schedule has no meaningful impact on patients’ final depression outcomes. 

In this article, we’ll look closely at what happens when you miss a TMS session, whether or not frequent TMS is dangerous, and whether or not there’s a perfect TMS treatment schedule.

Does Frequency of TMS Sessions Matter?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a treatment for depression that requires you to attend physical sessions. Many other treatments for depression don’t require physical attendance anywhere, and if they do, the appointments are fairly spaced out.

TMS is different because the usual regimen is five 20-40 minute sessions per week for six to seven weeks. While that may seem like a big commitment, most patients who have completed a TMS course will tell you that it goes by quickly. 

In regulatory trials of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for medication-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD), treatment was administered on a once-daily schedule of five sessions/week for the first four-six weeks and then usually tapered over the last few weeks. This schedule has been adopted in most TMS clinical practices for over a decade.

Because circumstances preventing strict adherence to the standard schedule (i.e. holidays, travel plans, illnesses/injuries) occasionally arise, you may be worried that missing sessions could have a negative effect on your progress.

A 2020 study aimed to answer whether or not  interruptions in TMS schedules have any adverse effects.  The researchers analyzed data from 316 naturalistically-treated MDD patients undergoing TMS treatment between 2010 and 2019.  The researchers found out that interruptions in the TMS sessions, including gaps of up to 14 days, had no meaningful impact on final depression outcomes.

A 2012 randomized clinical trial demonstrated that a TMS schedule of three sessions/week was not inferior to the standard five/week regimen on final treatment outcomes, though the group assigned to daily sessions achieved symptom reduction in a shorter period of time.

How Often Can You Have TMS?

Because TMS involves using magnetic pulses to stimulate part of your brain, some people wonder if it could cause some adverse effects if you’re exposed to it frequently.  

A 2018 study sought to find out whether or not twice-daily sessions of TMS had any positive or negative effects on MDD patients. 36 depressed patients each had 30 sessions of TMS, either two sessions of TMS per day or one session of TMS per day.  The majority of patients in both groups responded to treatment, and there was a greater response rate in the twice-daily group (82.4%) compared to the once-daily group (52.6%).  Patients in the twice-daily group experienced an improvement in symptoms faster than the once daily group.  In addition, there were no adverse effects in either group.

What Is the Optimal TMS Treatment Schedule?

There is not enough research to determine what the optimal TMS treatment schedule is.  We do know that there are very likely no adverse effects in patients that miss the occasional session or patients that receive a higher concentration of sessions.

That said, the perfect TMS treatment schedule is mostly up to you. You can likely experience quicker results if you have frequent TMS appointments.  In addition, you can experience the same amount of success if you have your TMS course over a longer period of time.

Find TMS Treatments for Any Schedule at Mid City TMS

TMS is a great option if other depression treatments haven’t brought you the results you’re looking to achieve. If you’d like to learn more about transcranial magnetic stimulation in general, feel free to browse our blog. We cover all kinds of interesting topics and answer frequently asked questions.

Mid City TMS works with any schedule to provide patients with safe and effective TMS treatment.So, no matter how busy your schedule is, contact us online or give us a call at (212) 517-1867 so we can find the perfect TMS treatment schedule for you.

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