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Hi All,

I spend most of my time in chat, and rarely post here.  It was suggested to me in chat that I start a thread on my personal experience with TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation.

I should have probably started this thread when I started TMS, but just didn't think about it then, so we'll have to jump in mid-treatment.

As of today, I'm 15 treatments into a 30 treatment plan.

History:  I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder eight years ago, in 2008.  Prior to that, I was a happy, very functional adult with a great career.  Two years ago, in 2014, that diagnosis was changed to Major Depressive Disorder, as I hadn't had any manic symptoms in years and years. . . just crippling depression.

Back to TMS, my husband found an article on TMS earlier this year, and began researching it frantically.  He found a physician that practiced TMS locally, in Saint Louis, and scheduled the appointment for me.  We went to the initial meeting.  After a two hour interview and Q&A, the doctor agreed to write up a case for our insurance to cover the treatment with one condition. . . I had to completely quit drinking.  Zero drinking. . . starting that day.  At the time, I was drinking heavily, and was concerned about detox, but, we got rid of all of the alcohol, and so far, that part has been relatively easy. 

A week after the initial meeting, my insurance approved the treatment, so we were going.  No turning back now.

The actual treatment:  They sit you down in a very comfortable chair, secure a bunch of stuff to your head including tape measures and a very large white helmet.  This helmet contains a big magnet that is supposed to zap your brain right above your left eyebrow.  I was not prepared for the magnet.  On day one, it hurts like hell.  Feels like a woodpecker is sitting on your forehead and pecking away very rapidly above your eyebrows. . . your body shakes and eyes water.  The sessions are 20 minutes in duration, with 2 second intervals of woodpecker. 

After week one was complete, 5 sessions down, I started to feel lighter. . . like the clouds had started to part, and colors were much more vibrant.  Weeks two and three were more of the same, 5 days a week for treatment.  Sometimes the woodpecker hurt badly, other times, it was tolerable and I've been able to crochet or watch TV.  I've had good days and bad days, but feel like so far it's showing great promise.

As of right now, I'm 3 weeks, 15 treatments into a 30 day treatment plan.  I leave in 2 1/2 hours to go get magnetized again and am optimistic about the future.

I know there is a whole lot of conflicting information about TMS.  For me, I've seen quite a bit of improvement.  It may be placebo, but if it is, I'll take it!!

Thanks for listening.




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Very interesting, Kristen! Thanks for sharing this info with us. Woodpecker sounds spot on and sorry to hear that it can hurt so much.

I've heard of tms and read some on it years ago, but really have nothing to say but questions. Forgive or ignore me if I ask too many now.

How was your treatment plan chosen? Are there others with greater/lesser frequency and length? Did they talk to you much about tms in general? And in your specific case? When you're finished, how do they determine if you need another treatment plan? 

Thanks again for telling us about your experience.


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My treatment plan was chosen by my husband doing research, finding a doctor, and asking me to go along with him to check it out.  I had never heard of TMS prior to this appointment, only ECT.  I didn't really expect a whole lot out of it, but needed to do it to show my husband I'm trying.

I didn't consult my pdoc about this at all.  She does receive reports from the TMS people, and she was made aware I was doing it when I requested my file be sent over to the TMS place. . . not hiding, just didn't even think about calling her in advance.

Frequency and length of treatment seems to vary based on trial and error.  I believe they start everyone off with the same duration, number of treatments, and intensity.  Throughout treatment, they monitor your reaction and do some tweaking.  The plan I am on is 5 days/week for 4 weeks, then 2 days/week for 5 weeks, for a total of 30 sessions.  I believe that is the baseline that they share with everyone.

Of course, I'm not at the end yet, but I've been told that we can determine if any additional treatment may be helpful at the end of this treatment.  Some people want a kind of maintenance TMS 2X/month, and others don't want any at all.  Guess I'll figure that all out at session #30!!


Kristen -- now on 16/30 treatments, so over the 50% mark!!!

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