Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a medical procedure sometimes used to treat severe cases of depression that don’t respond to therapy or medication. TMS may also be considered as treatment for depression in people who want to avoid taking antidepressant medications.
What does it involve?
TMS involves using magnetic fields to stimulate the mood centers of the brain. The magnetic pulses used during TMS are similar to those emitted by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The patient is awake and seated during the procedure. The TMS machine is noisy, so it is important to wear earplugs during the treatment. It is normal to feel some clicking and tapping sensations on the head. The procedure lasts about 40 minutes. TMS is performed on an outpatient basis.
It is believed that TMS works by causing changes in brain activity that can relieve the symptoms of depression.
In order to be effective, TMS usually requires a series of sessions. Typically, TMS treatments are given daily, five days a week, for four to six weeks.
TMS is considered a safe and effective treatment for those with treatment-resistant depression.
Common side effects of TMS can include headaches, scalp discomfort, lightheadedness, and twitching or tingling of the facial muscles. Rare but more serious side effects can include seizures, mania, and hearing loss (if earplugs are not worn).
While some health insurance plans cover TMS, coverage may be limited. TMS can be expensive if you are paying privately.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find or travel to a TMS provider.
For more information about this treatment, visit:
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Service – Johns Hopkins
Transcranial magnetic stimulation – Mayo Clinic
Effectiveness of transcranial magnetic stimulation in clinical practice post-FDA approval in the United States: results observed with the first 100 consecutive cases of depression at an academic medical center.– PubMed