What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS is typically used when other depression treatments haven't been effective.

This treatment for depression involves delivering repetitive magnetic pulses, so it's called repetitive TMS or rTMS.

How does TMS work?

During an rTMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead. The electromagnet painlessly delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression. It's thought to activate regions of the brain that have decreased activity in depression. (the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex).

As these magnetic fields move into the brain, they produce very small electrical currents. These electrical currents activate cells within the brain, causing them to rewire, a process called neuroplasticity. In addition, TMS is thought to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Since depression is thought to be the result of an imbalance of these chemicals in the brain and incorrect pathways of brain networks, TMS can restore that balance and, thus, relieve depression.

TMS has also been FDA approved for the treatment of OCD. Other conditions for which TMS has been studied include anxiety, PTSD, Alzheimer's, ADHD, neuropathic pain, tinnitus, Parkinson's disease, fibromyalgia, stroke recovery, epilepsy, and migrane headaches.

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Why Choose TMS?

Depression is a treatable condition, but for some people, standard treatments aren't effective. Repetitive TMS is typically used when standard treatments such as medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy) don't work. TMS treatment is covered by most health insurance policies.

Is TMS Right For Me?

  • Have you been treated for depression and not benefited from medications?
  • Have you had side effects from those medications?
  • Are you searching for a drug free depression solution?
  • Do you want the safety of an FDA cleared depression solution?
  • Do you want to get help?

TMS Therapy is contraindicated in individuals with implanted metallic devices or non-removable metallic objects in or around the head.


Side Effects and Risks

Repetitive TMS is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation used for depression. Unlike vagus nerve stimulation or deep brain stimulation, rTMS does not require surgery or implantation of electrodes. And, unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), rTMS doesn't cause seizures or require sedation with anesthesia.

Generally, rTMS is considered safe and well-tolerated. However, it can cause some side effects.

Common side effects

Side effects are generally mild to moderate and improve shortly after an individual session and decrease over time with additional sessions. They may include:

  • Headache
  • Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
  • Tingling, spasms or twitching of facial muscles
  • Lightheadedness

Your doctor can adjust the level of stimulation to reduce symptoms or may recommend that you take an over-the-counter pain medication before the procedure.

Uncommon side effects

Serious side effects are rare. They may include:

  • Seizures
  • Mania, particularly in people with bipolar disorder
  • Hearing loss if there is inadequate ear protection during treatment

More study is needed to determine whether rTMS may have any long-term side effects.