TMS, which stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a cutting edge treatment for unipolar depression that uses a magnetic field to stimulate brain areas that control your moods. These areas are believed to be under-active in people with depression. This FDA approved procedure provides a safer, drug-free, faster-acting alternative to antidepressants. It can also be used along with medication.
TMS therapy typically takes between 30-50 minutes during an in-office visit. You’ll sit fully awake in a chair while your TMS Treater administers the treatment. A small curved device containing a magnetic coil will rest on your head, delivering magnetic stimulation precisely where your brain needs it. There is no need for recovery time afterward; you can get straight back to your daily activities.
Standard procedure for TMS therapy involves one daily session 5 days per week for 4 - 6 weeks. From there, most recipients experience remission of depression symptoms for over 12 months.
TMS is considered an extremely safe way to manage depression without the potential side effects of medications. It uses far less magnetic energy but the same type and strength of magnetic fields used in MRIs, which have been safely used for tens of millions of people around the world. Research has shown no negative brain effects such as concentration difficulties or memory loss from the treatment.
TMS therapy won’t cause side effects associated with medications such as sexual dysfunction, weight gain or fatigue, but you may experience discomfort or pain around the treatment area shortly after. Any discomfort typically subsides on its own within a week.
Most private insurance providers as well as Medicare and TRICARE cover TMS therapy for treatment of major depressive disorder.