TMS is an alternative to antidepressants and other forms of medication for people who suffer from Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD). FDA approved since 2008, it has been proven to be a safe and non-invasive method of treating depression. It involves the use of magnetic pulses to stimulate low-acting areas of the brain in order to improve symptoms of depression. Usually, TMS treatments involve about 36 sessions, with one session being given per day.
This schedule of treatment has proved to be very effective, but the problem is how long it takes until patients start seeing results. It could take up to a few months of TMS therapy before patients start feeling an improvement in the symptoms of their depression, and this delayed reaction could lead to increased morbidity, particularly in patients who experience suicidal thoughts.
Because of this, there was the need to come up with a method of treatment that is just as non-invasive and effective as TMS, but that reduces the duration of treatment. And this is how accelerated TMS therapy came into being.
What Is Accelerated TMS Therapy?
Accelerated TMS therapy is an emerging form of TMS that is aimed at reducing the length of treatments and improving the response time of patients. Its goal is to achieve the same or improved efficacy as TMS treatments do.
TMS therapy is good, but the need for multiple sessions spanning over such a long period of time has been a major inconvenience for some patients. There are patients who have to travel interstate to get their treatments, some patients have children to care for, and there are others who simply have their jobs interrupted by the extended treatments required.
Now, typically, TMS works by delivering pulses of frequencies of about 10 Hz over the left dorsolateral frontal cortex initially for about 37 minutes per day, over a period of 6 – 8 weeks. Accelerated TMS therapy aims to shorten the whole process by delivering more than one session of TMS treatment per day.
Some accelerated TMS protocols deliver up to 10 sessions per day with intervals of about 50 minutes between treatments, every day for five days. The response is usually the same as if the patients received the standard TMs treatments of 36 sessions once daily.
Accelerated TMS Therapy Protocols
A method of administering accelerated TMS therapy to patients is by using intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS). The Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy, SAINT is an FDA-approved method of delivering theta burst stimulations to patients. It has been renamed Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT), and it is widely used to provide treatment for depression in clinics.
SAINT TMS is an experimental approach, and it works by the delivery of 10 sessions of intermittent theta burst stimulation daily, for 5 days. It is the most noteworthy protocol for accelerated TMS, and it has shown results that prove that it is just as efficient as standard TMS.
Another accelerated TMS protocol is the use of repetitive TMS (rTMS) sessions in an unconventional way. In this method of accelerated TMS therapy, the number of sessions is increased from just one daily to multiple sessions being administered to the patient in one day.
For example, a clinic could decide to administer 3 TMS sessions per day in the first week of treatment, then 2 per day in the second week, and 1 per day in the third week of treatment. It also produces effects that are just as efficient as the standard TMS protocol where sessions are delivered once per day for four weeks.
Advantages Of Accelerated TMS Therapy
- It is a non-invasive procedure that does not require anesthesia or the surgical opening up of any parts of the body before it is administered.
- It has no side effects that can prevent patients from going about their normal activities, and it has absolutely no downtime.
- More treatments can be fit into a lesser period of time, and the results obtained are the same as those that will be gotten if the treatments are spread over the span of months like in standard TMS therapy.
- Because of how it is non-invasive and has no side-effects, accelerated TMS therapy can be used concurrently with other medication or psychotherapeutic procedures.
- Sometimes, it can be used as an alternative to antidepressants. This is especially true for patients who suffer from treatment-resistant depression that has not shown improvements with medication.
1. Is Accelerated TMS Therapy FDA approved?
Yes, some accelerated TMS protocols have been approved by the FDA. For example, SAINT TMS was approved in 2020 after some studies were carried out, and it is now widely used as a form of accelerated TMS to treat patients.
2. Are Accelerated TMS procedures covered by insurance companies?
No, insurance companies don’t provide insurance coverage for accelerated TMS therapy treatments. However, there are insurance plans for standard TMS protocol, particularly after other medical procedures and treatments have failed to work.
3. Can I go back to work after I receive my accelerated TMS treatments?
One advantage of accelerated TMS is that it has no downtime. Immediately after the treatments are over, you can go back to resume your normal day-to-day activities.
TMS is a safe, non-invasive, and non-convulsive way of treatment for patients who suffer from major depressive disorders. It uses magnetic pulses to stimulate areas of the brain where activity is low, and by doing this over an extended period of time, it improves symptoms of depression.
Accelerated TMS is an improvement on the standard TMS procedure, aimed at reducing the duration of treatments and improving the response time. It is particularly good for patients who can’t afford to undergo treatments for months at a stretch. Results produced have been shown to be just as effective as those gotten in conventional TMS therapy.
Any TMS treatment that shortens the time of treatment is called accelerated TMS, and one noteworthy example is SAINT TMS. SAINT TMS uses intermittent theta burst stimulation to improve symptoms of depression in patients, and it takes about 5 days to complete a treatment regimen.