I started the NeuroStar TMS treatment Tuesday. Several people have expressed interest in the treatment so I’ll share what it’s been like for me thus far.
NeuroStar transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) targets, “key areas of the brain that are underactive in people with depression (NeuroStar website).” This treatment is for those of us who have not had long-term success with medication therapy.
Most insurance companies will pay for the treatment if you can show you’ve tried a variety of medications but none have worked for you. My insurance requires me to pay my co-pay with every treatment, and since I get treatment five days a week, that’s going to cost me, but I have nothing to lose so I’m going for it.
My treatment program will include 36 sessions. During the first session my brain was “mapped.” They were stimulating my Primary Motor Cortex looking for the spot that made my right thumb jump. This can take an hour or more to locate. For me it took approximately 35 minutes. Once they found that sweet spot, they could locate my Prefrontal Cortex. This is the part of my brain the TMS stimulates.
I was able to schedule my treatment sessions after work so there’s no disruption to my work life. During each 30-minute treatment I recline in a chair not unlike a dentist chair. A piece of equipment is placed against the left side of my head and a headrest on the right side of my head. Treatment consists of a series of magnetic “taps” on my head followed by a short rest period. To me it feels like a woodpecker tapping on my head, but the treatment is not invasive and there’s no soreness afterward. I sit and play games on my phone during treatment and before you know it I’m done. Afterward I can resume regular activities.
I was told I’d start noticing improvement about halfway through, but I’m already noticing some change. It could be a placebo effect, but my treatment nurse did say some people do experience changes in mood early in treatment. In my case I feel more energized and less overwhelmed. I’ve caught myself singing, which is something I usually do when I’m feeling good. I smiled and waved at two neighbors yesterday while walking with Molly, which is something I don’t normally do. And have you seen my Facebook postings? I’ve posted more in the past week than I have in months. That’s different.
I’m excited about these changes and I’m hoping it lasts. I’ll keep you posted on how things go and after treatment ends I’ll tell you if it was worth it.