Q: Is there anything that would prevent me from using TMS?
A: Almost any patient can use TMS. One hard and fast rule is that patients cannot have any ferromagnetic material in their head (e.g. surgical plates or screws). TMS does produce a strong magnetic field—not dissimilarly to an MRI. Basically, if you can have an MRI you can have TMS. That said, the magnetic field produced by the TMS device is more localized than an MRI, so if the ferromagnetic material is located more than 12 inches from the head, treatment may likely still be possible. Dental fillings and implants are compatible with TMS.
Q: If I have a medical device like a pacemaker, can I still have TMS?
A: The short answer is yes; in the majority of cases you can still be treated. Because the magnetic field is so localized, TMS does not necessarily interfere with medical devices located elsewhere in the body. We have treated patients with pacemakers, insulin pumps, and other medical devices. That being said, cardiac pacemakers and implanted physiological devices are considered relative contraindications to rTMS. Before treatment we will consult with the device manufacturer and your physician for more details to ensure safety.
Q: Can a person of any age be treated?
A: In theory a person of any age can be safely and effectively treated and benefit from TMS. Most insurance providers will only cover those 18 years old or older. For those younger than 18, the decision to treat can be made on a case-by-case basis. At South Bay TMS we have successfully treated patients aged 16 to 94.
Q: Do I have to have tried drug therapies first?
A: No. We treat a range of patients at South Bay TMS. The majority of patients have tried multiple antidepressant drug treatments, but not all, and some have never taken any antidepressant medication at all. As a note, most insurance providers will generally only cover those who have failed at least one medication.
Q: I have a psychiatric or neurological condition other than depression (e.g. anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, epilepsy or migraines). Can I be treated?
A: Yes! TMS has been shown to be clinically effective for many of these disorders, and at South Bay TMS we regularly and successfully treat patients who suffer from them. However, because the FDA indication only outlines TMS’s use for major depression, insurance will not cover TMS treatment for these other mental health and neurological disorders. That said, many patients are diagnosed with both depression and another disorder. In those cases, insurance claims can simply be processed under the depression diagnosis.