TMS is a transformational non-drug therapy, approved by the FDA to treat symptoms of depression in those who have not responded to medication. Its magnetic pulses gently stimulate specific areas of the brain that are underactive in people with depression.
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, with symptoms ranging from insomnia or excessive sleeping, to feelings of worthlessness or guilt, lack of pleasure in most activities, or recurring thoughts of death or suicide. Though medication is often helpful in managing these symptoms, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy may be an option for people who experience problematic side effects, have not found a medication that is effective for them, or need additional therapeutic support.
ServiceNet’s TMS service offers NeuroStar Advanced Therapy® at our outpatient clinic in Northampton. This non-drug, non-invasive depression therapy has been proven safe and effective in treating major depression.
WHAT TO EXPECT
HOW TMS WORKS
TMS therapy uses focused magnetic pulses—similar in strength to an MRI—to awaken areas of the brain that are underactive in depression. By stimulating the release of neurotransmitters and increasing the brain’s blood flow, this treatment can result in improved mood. It is typically prescribed for 6 weeks, 5 days a week, plus an additional 6 sessions during a 3-week taper (36 total sessions over a couple of months). Each treatment lasts about 20 minutes.
TMS is not like Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT). It requires no anesthesia or sedation, and patients are awake and alert during treatment. People are able to resume normal activities immediately afterwards.
Patients who are taking medications to treat their depression may continue to use them while undergoing TMS therapy.
SAFETY AND EFFICACY
Since it was introduced in 2008, NeuroStar Advanced Therapy® has been proven safe and effective, with more than 2.5 million treatments delivered. The majority of patients experience relief within several weeks, and continue to feel better after treatment is complete.
Your pre-treatment evaluation gives our psychiatrist a chance to get to know you, your symptoms, and your medical history to see if TMS therapy is the best option for you. The doctor will also tell you more about the TMS treatment process, and answer any questions you may have. If you choose to pursue TMS treatment, we will submit a pre-authorization to your insurance company and coordinate your insurance coverage.
Brain Mapping and First Treatment
Before treatment begins, our technician and psychiatrist will work together to “map” your brain and identify which point on your head should receive the magnetic stimulation. During this one-hour session, the technician will use the TMS device to send magnetic pulses and register your brain’s response until the optimal point is identified. As soon as mapping is complete, you’ll be ready for your first TMS treatment. This visit will take about one-and-a-half hours altogether.
After mapping, each of your daily sessions (Monday-Friday) will take about 20 minutes. You’ll recline in a comfortable chair, and the technician will position the TMS device on your head. When treatment begins, you’ll feel a series of light taps on your scalp; these are the magnetic pulses at work.
Because TMS only stimulates the area of the brain involved in mood, there are no systemic side effects such as those that can happen with medication. Some patients may experience scalp pain or discomfort underneath the magnetic coil, though this usually disappears within 1-2 weeks.
Our treatment room is designed for your comfort, and we invite you to relax, watch television, listen to your favorite music, or simply visit with the technician during your sessions.
Each week, we’ll ask you to complete an evaluation to measure your progress.
3-Week Taper Period
After the 6-week treatment, there is a 3-week taper period. Typically, you would come in for three TMS sessions in the seventh week, two in the eighth week, and one final session in the ninth week.
TMS is covered by Medicare and most commercial insurances. If insurance coverage isn’t an option, we can also work with you to develop an out-of-pocket payment plan to cover the cost of treatment.
Meet Our Team
Dr. Louis Velazquez, Medical Director for ServiceNet’s outpatient clinics, grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He completed his undergraduate studies at Yale University; medical school at the University of Michigan; his Psychiatric residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and a fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr. Velazquez worked at hospitals and clinics in Maine, the Boston area, and New Mexico before he and his family settled in the Pioneer Valley in 2007. He then served as a staff psychiatrist with CSO, and held medical leadership roles with Brightside for Families and Children, CHD, and Baystate Wing Memorial Hospital. Dr. Velazquez joined the team at ServiceNet in 2018, where he soon initiated the TMS service as a valuable treatment option for patients with major depression.
Terry Walk, TMS Coordinator is a native of western Massachusetts. She began her mental health career in 2009, working as an administrative professional in a busy outpatient behavioral health office. Though she’d held similar roles in various medical practices, from that point on she knew she had found her field. Terry set the tone for patients coming into the office, building rapport and helping them feel welcome. Now, as a NeuroStar-trained TMS technician, she continues to set people at ease with her expertise, attention to detail, and support throughout their treatment. “We see each other for half an hour every day for 36 days,” she says, “and my goal is to make each visit as comfortable and pleasant as possible.”
NeuroStar Advanced Therapy® is available only by prescription from our psychiatrist. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out if TMS treatment may be an option for you: 413.584.6855 ext. 6