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Harvard Health Blog
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Hope for stubborn depression
- By Adam P. Stern, MD, Contributor
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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Many patients today do not tolerate adverse side effects of medications, or simply prefer a more natural way to manage depression. TMS is a viable option. Other options that work in a similar way include electrical stimulation (ES) or (NET) NeuroElectrical Therapy applied to the auricle (ear reflex points-aka auriculotherapy). These are both science-based therapies. They work at the cellular level to restore function by stimulating endogenous dopamine and endorphin activity in parts of the brain that are deficient and that regulate mood . As mentioned above, there are situations where these therapies are contraindicated, i.e. pregnancy, insulin pumps, pain pumps, severe debilitating mental illness, pacemakers,
(some cardiologist have technician monitor during during therapy and find no difficulty). It may take regular (weekly or monthly sessions) therapy for 6 months to a year to get resolution. It works quite well for nicotine dependency in those ready for a change. (Initially, should have 3 days in secession for nicotine detoxification). Behavioral coaching is essential to accompany ES, NET or TMS.
How can I find out about participation in a clinical trial for this treatment on bipolar disorder?
Last year I contacted my insurance company re their policy on coverage of TMS treatment. They were not aware of the treatment and referred me to a complicated request procedure to apply for coverage. Is TMS mainstream enough at this time for patients to insist on coverage? Do you have documentation at the professional practice level that may be submitted to the insurance company to prove its authenticity and to help make my case for coverage? This is very challenging for someone who is dealing with depression. It feels very overwhelming to take on an insurance company, but I have been dealing with depression for thirty years without any combination of medications being effective for long periods of time. It is like being on a roller-coaster, and I’m tired of the ride and the side-effects. I would greatly appreciate any assistance you can suggest. Thank you.
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