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Making TMS Work For You

By 
Brooke Barash

It’s no secret that Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an excellent resource for treatment-resistant mental illness. Those powerful magnets have changed lives by significantly reducing pain derived from depression, or in some cases, taking it away. 

Naturally, anyone choosing to go through with these painless yet powerful treatments needs to feel a sense of relief--and they will. Still, there are always things we can do to optimize results. Here’s how to make the most out of your TMS treatments. 

Patient using psychotherapy to enhance TMS
Talking to someone who’s specialized in dealings of empathy and curiosity helps us look beyond chemical imbalances. Being truly seen and heard regularly makes a profound difference on its own. Imagine what this liminal space can do in tandem with TMS. Image courtesy of Polina Zimmerman via Pexels.


Spend Time In A Sacred Space

Lots of people who end up treating their mental illnesses with TMS were once avid therapy-goers-- and some still are. 

Though most clients resort to TMS when traditional treatment methods haven’t worked, it doesn’t mean that talk therapy won’t ever be helpful. TMS is unique because it can be used as a stand-alone treatment, which is useful for those with financial concerns. But for those who have it within their reach, TMS can be a great addition to treatment plans. 

Going to therapy while getting magnetically stimulated can increase a patient’s ability to be active participants during their sessions. As they begin to feel TMS work, they may find themselves ready to change behaviors, gain insight from past experiences, and examine negative thought patterns. 

With TMS bringing more levity, patients have enough mental space to breathe some intention into psychotherapy. And more importantly, decide what it is they need from it. From there, they can begin to create goals surrounding ways of making life more fulfilling. What’s more, they might even find imagining that new life exciting.

Woman eating nutritious food after TMS treatment
Healthy living is essential to having a sound mind. And the first step to that is identifying where we’re slacking. When we know what we need, we can begin to move towards healing. Image courtesy of Pexels.


Take Care Of Yourself

When we’re in the depths of mental illness, everyday living can feel almost impossible. But luckily, TMS makes everything more manageable. Patients usually start to see results within the first few weeks of treatment. When that happens, it may be time to start dipping our toes back into healthy living. 

In this case, living well could mean different things, depending on the circumstances. However, we can all agree upon a few things that fall under that healthful category. 

The Mind-Body Connection

Not all of us love working out, but it’s hard to deny that feeling of refreshment after a good sweat. Those are endorphins at work. 

Exercise is so effective in combating and managing mental illnesses. And the best part about it is, you don’t have to be a workout junkie to reap the benefits. Making a daily effort to incorporate movement, even if that means a stretch session or morning walk, can profoundly impact your mental state.  

But what is it about movement that makes the inner world peaceful? 

Aside from releasing those happy hormones, it has a slew of other benefits. Some include--

-increased energy 

-better sleep patterns

-increased mental alertness

-more appreciation for one’s body

-decreased anxiety and depression

Exercise of any kind required us to be present with our bodies and breath. And by staying present in the moment, we might take our minds off of intrusive thoughts or any residual anxiety lying around. 

Try to find a form of movement you enjoy. Some find release in distance running or kickboxing, while others prefer a more spiritual experience, like yoga. If you like what you’re doing, you’re more likely to make a habit of it. From there, it can become a great coping skill. 

Catch Some Zzz

Though it certainly helps, sleep isn’t just for beauty. It helps us function and, quite frankly, stay sane. 

Sleep cycles exist to help input and process emotional information, and specifically, store positive ones. So, when we don’t prioritize getting our eight hours, it can exacerbate depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. 

With that, it’s important to acknowledge that sleep problems are often symptoms of depression and other disorders. If you’re dealing with insomnia, there are medical and herbal interventions that can help. Either option is valid.

Still, you might also consider paying attention to your bedtime habits. Good sleep hygiene can set us up to wake up feeling refreshed.

To create conditions for a good night’s sleep, you might consider doing these things--

Set A Bedtime And Stick To It

This is all about re-centering our circadian rhythms. Consistency is everything here--when you decide on a time for light’s out and act on it daily, your body learns when to wind-down. After a while, sleepiness might start to come naturally. 

Put Your Phone Away!

We all know that hypnotizing blue light on our electronic devices. While streaming or strolling may seem like a soothing way to unwind after a long day, it doesn’t help in the sleep department. This is because there’s so much information on social media and streaming services. Taking that much in when lying in bed sends our minds spinning and thoughts racing when we should be drifting to sleep. If you can’t fall asleep on your own just yet, try swapping your phone for a book instead. 

Create A Haven

The right environment is essential when resting. This sleep tip isn’t one-size-fits-all, though. If you’re the kind of sleeper who needs sound to feel safe, try investing in a sound machine or creating an instrumental playlist. If you can’t sleep with an ounce of light, close your door or grab some blackout curtains. 

Never underestimate the power of clean linens and a freshly made bed. This is something you’ll have to incorporate into your morning routine, but it’s worth it. 

Eat Some Brain Food

As of late, more and more research is coming out on nutrition psychology. It turns out that eating a balanced diet isn’t only beneficial for our physical health but has an impact on our mental state. Studies have shown that depressed individuals who made nutritious changes to their diets showed a marked decrease in symptoms.

But when we’re feeling depressed, grocery shopping, let alone cooking, could feel like quite the feat. Because of that, we may find ourselves using convenience as our primary source of sustenance. And when we do that, chances are we aren’t eating the most nutrient-dense food. 

So how can you make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition when everything feels hard?

Whatever your dietary choices are (vegan, paleo, carnivore, etc.), the key isn’t to overhaul your eating habits but to make small sustainable improvements. This could mean swapping one of your snacks throughout the day for something yummy yet satiating, like bananas with peanut butter or even dark chocolate. 

When you start to feel the effects of TMS, take advantage of days when things feel more manageable, and prepare some nutritious, delicious meals ahead of time. That way, on days when depression makes meal preparation feel like an ordeal, the only thing standing between you and a healthy meal is a microwave. 

This isn’t to say that we need to let go of those foods we love, either--it’s all about balance. 


Woman hugging support system after TMS
Never underestimate the power of a good hug. Everyone needs people they can turn to when things aren’t going so well. But when we’re healing from a mental illness, having support is essential. Image courtesy of Pexels.


Find Support

One of the hallmarks of depression and other mental disorders is social isolation. Sometimes we just don’t know how to talk about what’s going on with us or don’t want to impose upon our loved ones. It’s easier said than done to lean on our people, but it really does make all the difference. 

Even when we’re not sure what we need, reaching out for support can be a pivotal step in recovery. It sets us up well to navigate challenging times once TMS treatments are finished. When we receive love from those around us, even when we don’t have anything to give, it shows us that we’re worthy. 

Support doesn’t only mean having people to sit with us in the darkness. When we feel able, seeing friends, partners, or family members can remind us what it’s like to feel joy and laugh. Those warm moments reinforce personhood outside of illness. 

If friends and family feel out-of-reach, that’s okay. Try looking up your local support group in the meantime. It’s powerful to hear people talk about things we thought ourselves to be alone in--to be understood without explanation. 

The best way to make sure you get the best results possible during TMS treatment is to know yourself. Having a baseline of health is the best way to set yourself up for a sustainable and manageable mental state. What can you improve? Do what you can and make those small changes--you’ll feel better before you know it! 
















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