Discover What TMS Is

Discover What TMS Is

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a method of treating mental health conditions using waves of magnetic energy produced by an MRI coil. The magnetic energy travels from a coil to the brain, transiting the skull (hence the name transcranial). The regions of the brain treated and the pattern of magnetic energy pulses used (called a protocol) vary based on the condition to be treated and evolving medical research. The use of TMS has been approved by the FDA since 2008.

Discover What TMS Is

Symptoms

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are recurring and persistent thoughts that are unwanted or intrusive and cause anxiety. Compulsions are repeated actions (e.g., handwashing, re-arranging) or thoughts (e.g., counting, repeating words, or praying). OCD can be diagnosed if these symptoms last more than one hour a day, cause distress, and interfere with daily functioning.

Compulsive Behavior

Performing an action over and over again, without it leading to a reward.

Hypervigilance

Being in a state of increased monitoring constantly. Always alert to hidden dangers.

Panic Attacks

Being overwhelmed by anxiety or fears for brief periods of time.

Food Aversion

Avoiding food and being sensitive around eating certain types of food.

Impulsivity

Inability to control your thoughts, behaviors, or actions.

TMS uses no medications

How we are treating
depression with TMS?

Step 1

Contact us, tell us about your diagnoses and provide a history of mental health and medication treatments. We will interview you at no cost to see if you meet medical necessity criteria for treatment, and help you obtain Prior Authorization for Treatment from your insurance company if available.

Step 2

Begin treatment. Come to our clinic for about 15 minutes, five times per week, for four to six weeks. The treatment will only take about three minutes of your visit, and when it’s finished, you can return immediately to work or family life.

Step 3

Participate in our life skills classes, acupuncture or acupressure treatments, and our biofeedback program sessions at no added cost. TMS works best as part of a comprehensive care package. Weekly psychotherapy with your own therapist is also strongly encouraged and typically leads to better outcomes.

Our experts

John L Fleming
Doctor Profile
John l Fleming, MD. DLFAPA.

Medical Director of SCTMSC, LLC, John is a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has over 40 years’ experience treating depression and related conditions and is recognized as a leader in the psychiatric profession. Since 2011 he has been a certified Provider Trainer and TMS provider for three different TMS treatment systems. His experience base includes psychopharmacology of complex conditions. psychotherapy of individuals and couples and the medical aspects of psychiatric illness. He has annually been selected by his peers as one of America’s Best Doctors since 2005.

About Melissa Hammock
Melissa Hammock, M.A., M.Ed., LMFT

Services Director of SCTMSC, LLC, Melissa received her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University and her master’s in special education from California State University, Los Angeles. Melissa is a Certified Life Coach and a member of the International Positive Psychology Association. Melissa is also a Certified TMS Provider.

Melissa has been in private practice in Colorado Springs since 1981, working with adults, adolescents, and couples. Melissa specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and trauma-based disorders. She has received training in EMDR, Cognitive Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, Energy Therapies, Interpersonal Therapy and Accudetox. Melissa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has been involved with TMS treatment since 2011.

About Joe Hammock
Joe Hammock, M.A., PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Clinical Director of SCTMSC, LLC and Certified TMS Provider since 2011, Joe is a licensed psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association. He is a graduate of Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, and additionally holds an MA from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is certified by the International EMDR Association and is a Certified TMS Provider.In his thirty years of practice in Colorado, he has specialized in the treatment of trauma-based disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and dissociative disorders. He also has extensive experience in psychological evaluations, CBT, EMDR, forensic psychology, and is frequently consulted as an expert witness.

FAQ

TMS treatment does not involve medication. The problem with medications is that they circulate throughout your entire body and brain continuously for months. Common side effects of medication vary but may include nausea, constipation or diarrhea, weight gain, dry mouth, blurry vision, and low sex drive or problems with sexual performance. TMS side effects are limited to mild headache, mild drowsiness for an hour after treatment, and very low (1 in 30,000 treatments) risk of seizure.

In the first session, we will determine how much magnetic energy it takes to stimulate your brain enough to make your thumb on the opposite side of your body wiggle. This amount is different for each person. This procedure is completely painless. For the treatments themselves, we will use this amount of magnetic energy (called the motor threshold or MT) as a guide for how much energy to use. You will sit in a comfortable chair and watch television or talk to the technician during treatments. A cloth cap is placed on your head before each treatment as a placement guide. Then, an MRI coil is held next to your head, always focused on the same spot. This MRI coil generates MRI impulses just like a standard MRI machine. An inflatable neck pillow supports your head and reminds you not to move during the treatment, but you are not restrained in any manner. You will be in the clinic for about 15 minutes each day, for a treatment that lasts around three minutes.

Depending on your needs, you may receive treatment only on the left side of your head, or our doctor may decide to add right-sided treatment as well. The standard course of treatment depends on the condition being treated. For depression, it is five days per week for six weeks, and then two days per week for a further three weeks. Most people begin to experience improvement by the third week of treatment.

The magnetic pulses generated by the coil reach only about one to one-anda-alf inches into the brain, enough to stimulate the surface cells. The area stimulated is only about the size of a quarter. The rest of your brain and body are not exposed to magnetic energy.

The brain cells directly under the coil respond to the magnetic energy by exhibiting normal electrical activity. This is in keeping with Faraday’s Law of Induction (a principle of physics), which states that a fluctuating magnetic field will generate a flow of electricity in a circuit, in this case a brain circuit. These cells directly under the coil are connected by groups fibers (axon tracts) to deeper areas of the brain that regulate mood, specifically the limbic and hippocampus system. For recovery to happen, the brain needs to be stimulated often enough for the surface cells and the structures underneath to acclimate to normal function and regrow to their normal size, volume, and function.

TMS is a very flexible treatment program with a number of different protocols, machines, and approaches.  

rTMS (repetitive TMS) uses high frequency magnetic energy pulses at 10 pulses per second to stimulate the brain on the left side and, if needed, low frequency pulses at one pulse per second on the right side of the brain. Treatment sessions last about 17 to 25 minutes per day.

TBS (Theta Burst TMS) uses the same type of magnetic energy, but the pulse pattern is different. In TBS, clusters of three quick pulses are given five times per second. This timing of five times per second corresponds to normal brain “theta waves” and is more coherent with normal brain functioning than rTMS. A TBS session takes about three minutes on the left side and, if needed, 40 seconds on the right. 

aTMS (Accelerated TMS) refers to offering more than one TMS treatment session per day. Most insurance companies do not cover such treatments, but medical research shows that this protocol can speed the process and reduce recovery times.

mTMS (maintenance TMS) is using TMS treatments once or twice a month to prolong the effect of an acute course of TMS or TBS treatment. 

dTMS (deep TMS) is a type of TMS treatment associated with the TMS device. In this machine, the MRI coil is contained within a helmet, which is placed on the patient’s head for treatment. The manufacturer reports that the magnetic energy from the coil penetrates the brain more deeply than that of standard MRI coils. However, angulated TMS coils used in other forms of TMS can cause magnetic energy to penetrate to the same degree as a TMS machine. The FDA considers rTMS, TBS, and dTMS bioequivalent. 

Currently, there are eight different TMS machines approved for use in the US. Our clinic has used four different machines since 2011. We have found our current machine, the MagVenture MagPro device to be the most comfortable and effective for our patients. With it, we are able to perform rTMS and TBS. We also use an angulated coil to provide deeper TMS than that obtained by the more typical flat coil.

The TMS machine treatments are only one part of what it takes to get better. 

If you have been depressed (or lived with another psychological condition) for a long time, you will have become accustomed to making life choices based on trying to avoid triggering the depression or other illness symptoms. This depression-based decision-making promotes the continuation of a depressive lifestyle. TMS can help your brain regain normal rhythms, but unless you take active steps to change your approach to life choices, your quality of life will not improve and you will relapse quickly. 

At Southern Colorado TMS Center, we offer more than the machine. Included at no additional cost are weekly life skills and decision-making classes, acupressure or acupuncture stress relief sessions, Heartmath, and breathing regulation training, so that you can learn new skills for managing stress and anxiety. We also expect that you will participate in individual psychotherapy during treatment, so that you can learn to manage the new feelings that will emerge as your brain normalizes and you become less numb to your emotions. Psychotherapy costs are not included in your TMS fees but are covered by health insurance.  

This comprehensive plan of treatment has been in use at our clinic since 2011. It has repeatedly proven to increase your odds of success and is much more effective than simply having a machine put magnetic pulses into your brain and hoping for the best. With whole-patient care, you can expect to change not only the patterns of your brain, but the patterns of your life. 

Standard rTMS is not approved for treating OCD. Such use is considered “off-label.” However, a number of studies suggest that an rTMS coil using an inhibitory rate (i.e., one pulse per second applied to the right DLPFC) has a similar outcome to the “on-label protocol” discussed above.

Depression Assessment

Do you believe that you suffer from depression or anxiety? Check out our online assessments for a quick online self-assessment to see if you suffer from a mental health related issue and to see if you qualify for treatment with TMS.

What the Patients Think

Cindy Testimonial
Cindy – 22

The Southern Colorado TMS Center is truly the most caring, compassionate mental health facility I have ever known. You always hear stories about why people have gone into the mental health field, but these folks truly live it. Everyone who works for SCTMSC (and I mean everyone), exudes warmth and empathy. They walk the walk. One of my family members utilized several of their services, and I got to witness firsthand how they deal with patients. I would highly recommend them to anyone suffering from depression, because they not only offer treatments but expect patients to participate fully in their recovery.

Patients Review
Pam – 25

Dear TMS staff, I want to express my thanks for all your sincere help while I went through a very difficult time. Every time I went to the center the staff was so kind and understanding. The educational classes in the evening were wonderful and I have learned so much about depression. I still look at the handouts you provided. I have gotten into meditation and continue to educate myself about depression and anxiety. If I watch “Friends” on the TV, I will always think of my experience at the Southern Colorado TMS Center!! Thank you for doing your job so well.

Patients Review 4
Barb – 46

All the staff at SCTMSC are very caring during all of the components of the TMS treatment. From dealing with insurance companies to adjusting one’s treatment time due to conflicts with your schedule; they are all wonderful. I would recommend TMS treatments to any person suffering MDD, as I have for many years. From my experience, TMS helped me far more than an anti-depression medication or CBT.

Patients Review 2
FB – 35

Dear TMS Team, I just wanted to say that 6 months after treatment, I am doing well. I have a new life and I am living it up. It is like being young again as I am finding my way again. I am so grateful to Dr. Fleming, Camice, Dawn and all the folks who helped me to get here! But especially to Dr Fleming.

Patients Review 3
Michelle – 37

Dear Dr. Hammock, I am so incredibly grateful and appreciative for all the time and attention you gave to my husband and me. Thank you, thank you for caring so much abut the individual person. I am also grateful that you took the time to help us separate out how we view ourselves in relation to our understanding of God’s love for us verses our symptoms of major depression; neither of us had realized or thought about that. That was incredibly insightful of you and so thoughtful of you to help us get to the root of it. Thank you for helping so many people. I can tell, that you and your team do a lot of good with very sincere hearts. It shines through unmistakably.

Drug free solutions for optimized brain function

We focus on delivering real solutions for our patients. We know that patients can have real life-changing results through applying TMS.

Other Conditions

PTSD

TMS treats PTSD without medication or medication side effects.

PTSD

Profound depressive symptoms and significant anxiety symptoms are part of PTSD. TMS can help with these symptoms.

Post Partum
depression

Many mothers can suffer depression as a result of hormonal changes during or after pregnancy. TMS can help treat this type of depression effectively.

Post Partum
depression

TMS effectively treats depression during and after pregnancy, without the use of medication.

Depression in
Adolescents

TMS can effectively treat depression in teens.

Depression in
Adolescents

As a teen goes through difficult changes in their adolescent years, they can experience serious depression. TMS can help teens who suffer from depression.