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Forums / Treatments, health professionals and therapies / rTMS: One personal experience and one vent (n=1)

Topic: rTMS: One personal experience and one vent (n=1)

3 posts, 0 answered
  1. MakeTheWorldABetterPlace
    MakeTheWorldABetterPlace avatar
    28 posts
    10 May 2019
    Firstly, it would be great if mental health professionals dealing with rTMS had first-hand experience of receiving the treatment, even just one session. I am onto my third daily treatment now (9000 pulses in total now). I was not prepared for the level of discomfort. Moreover, only one of the people treating me has experienced anything more than the initial setup test-run. It's often regarded as a relatively 'light-touch' or non-invasive procedure. You might hear/feel some slight tapping. I've read that you have a sensation like you've been struck by a rubber band. Being struck by a rubber band is a good description. However, it is more accurately described as a rapid fire machine gun of rubber band stings for four seconds, followed by an eleven second reprieve, until it begins again. For me, this was only one side my head and it was only for 20 minutes. Also, I have a few fillings so for me it was like going to the dentist, my teeth would ache with each onslaught. Also, they hit incidental nerves in the process of delivering this treatment, this can lead to a spasm with each series of rubber band flicks in: your jaw, your mouth/lip, your face, your eyebrow, your nose etc... I'm sticking with it because I'm hoping it'll be worth it. Unless you're a masochist, the pain doesn't do much for you from a hedonistic perspective. It could also be compared to getting IPL done on a sensitive area. Something I've grudgingly had to do for medical reasons in the past myself. There is some pain involved which shouldn't be discounted or ignored and the benefits may only be short-lived. If your mental health professional seems confused by or don't believe your point about discomfort it is unlikely they have experienced the treatment themselves. The evidence at the moment points to a short-term moderate effect size for depression, with caveats (e.g. co-morbidness and 'treatment resistant-ness'), and is most robust for the bilateral variant. Little is known about how long the treatment effects last or what, if any, long-term side effects there may be. I hope this helps other people to weigh up the costs versus the benefits of this treatment. I have an inkling many people discontinue the treatment early. This is just my experience so far; I'm sticking with it despite all this.
  2. Nurse Jenn
    Health professional
    • Health professional
    Nurse Jenn avatar
    170 posts
    11 May 2019

    Hi MakeTheWorldABetterPlace ,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It is these posts that help others learn about the ups and downs of different treatments and therapies. I am sorry to hear that rTMS has been so uncomfortable for you. Your persistence is inspiring but I am glad that you are using the forum to vent your frustrations and hope that you have some other supports around you to help. I will not pretend I know what it feels like to have this treatment but I am sure there are others who may be keen to share their experience. I look forward to you keeping us posted about your journey with this alternative therapy.

    I would also suggest that you discuss with your health practitioner the discomfort level you are experiencing if you haven't already. Debriefing your experiencing with pain can be helpful for some people.

    Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic stimulation (rTMS) stimulates the brain using magnetic fields. I have linked a fact sheet below for some information on this therapy modality. rTMS has some evidence to suggest it helps with depression when other more evidenced based therapies are not effective.

    https://blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/default-source/factsheets/rtmsfactsheet.pdf

    If anyone is interested in this therapy I would suggest you speak with your GP or health professional as to whether rTMS it is right for you.

    Wishing you the best possible outcome,

    Nurse Jenn

  3. MakeTheWorldABetterPlace
    MakeTheWorldABetterPlace avatar
    28 posts
    14 May 2019 in reply to Nurse Jenn

    Hi Nurse Jenn,

    Thanks for your reply and for kindness. I don't deserve it, but I'm very grateful for it.

    I have discussed my discomfort with the nurses providing the treatment. We have tried a few different things, but in the end I have resolved to just clench my teeth and wait for it to be over. It's tolerable. You can adapt to it a bit. It is only a magnetic field, still, it certainly seems to be doing something. I have started to put the discomfort behind me and just get on with it.

    Despite the pessimism I have expressed above (partly a function of me being well... depressed...), I'm 5 treatments and 15000 pulses in and I'm hopeful about this treatment and the various other treatments I'm receiving at the same time (e.g. various medications and various psychotherapies).

    Thank you for wishing me the best possible outcome. Fingers crossed. Take care.

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