What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

A man is seated on the bed in a bedroom. He has his head in his hands and is looking away from the camera. Horizontally framed shot.

Some people suffering from a severe form of depression known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) do not respond to traditional psychiatric treatments like medications and talk therapy. Until recently, attempting to successfully treat these patients has been challenging at best.

A revolutionary treatment known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has shown positive results in many patients who’ve been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. TMS has also given new hope to sufferers of several other psychiatric disorders, including: Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Dysthymia, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Substance/Medication Induced Depressive Disorder and a number of other neuropsychiatric disorders.

What is TMS?

TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a non-medical alternative treatment for depression patients who aren’t satisfied with their response to antidepressants and other medication therapy or who experience side effects..

Using magnetic pulses, TMS stimulates the areas of the brain involved in depressive disorders. The magnetic pulses used in TMS therapy are about as strong as a standard MRI, and there is no sedation necessary during treatment. The non-invasive nature of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy means patients aren’t plagued by side effects, and they can continue their everyday activities immediately after treatment.

How Does TMS Work?

During TMS therapy (sometimes called rTMS due to the repetitive nature of treatment), computerized electro-magnetic pulses repetitively stimulate the dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex often found to be under-active in depressed patients..

TMS (or rTMS) has shown very promising results for patients who were otherwise left without a treatment option. These patients now have hope thanks to this new, non-invasive, safe and FDA approved therapy. Because it is FDA approved, TMS therapy is now covered by many health insurance companies as a depression treatment.

Each therapy session takes less than 40 minutes and is performed as an in-office procedure. Patients will not usually experience any adverse effects and will be able to return to work or other daily activities after treatment. In order for TMS therapy to be effective, it must be administered five days a week for four to six weeks.

During TMS sessions, patients are fully alert and will usually only experience some loud clicking sounds and a tapping sensation at the treatment site on the head.

Therapy at our New Jersey TMS clinic may be the right answer for patients who experience medication-resistant depression on a regular basis that interferes with their daily activities. TMS may also benefit those patients who experience unpleasant or unwanted side-effects from antidepressants or other psychiatric medications, even if their depression symptoms lessened with pharmaceutical treatment.

Image credit: Mic445