TMS Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or you feel that your medication is causing unwanted side effects, you are not alone. Although antidepressants and talk therapy are treatment options for depression, over half of patients still experience symptoms after trying these conventional treatments. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, could be your next step.

What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe and effective treatment for depression that uses gentle magnetic pulses to stimulate specific areas of the brain responsible for mood. TMS is non-invasive (does not require surgery), non-systemic (does not affect the entire body), covered by most insurance and has no drug-related side effects.

Does TMS only work with depression?

Since its FDA clearance in 2008 for depression and 2018 for OCD and cigarette cessation, studies have suggested TMS may also be a promising treatment for a range of other mental health conditions.

Is TMS therapy like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

Unlike ECT, TMS therapy is non-invasive and non-sedating, so it does not require electrode implantation or the use of anesthesia. TMS treatment sessions take place in our private centers. Patients can drive each other to and from treatment. There is no downtime so patients can go about daily activities immediately following treatment. TMS treatment does not cause seizures nor affect cognitive function, it has fewer side effects than other treatments, and in some cases, no side effects at all.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. Much of the stigma attached to ECT is based on early treatments in which high doses of electricity were administered without anesthesia. ECT is much safer today. Although ECT may still cause some side effects including memory loss, confusion and muscle soreness, it now uses electric currents given in a controlled setting to achieve the most benefit with the fewest possible risks.

Why choose TMS therapy?

People with major depression typically first receive antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. Since the 1980s, antidepressants have worked to treat depression for many people, but they don’t work for everyone and they take weeks to exert their full effect. TMS therapy isn’t an antidepressant medication. Instead, TMS works by using gentle magnetic pulses that focally target specific areas of the brain known to be underactive in depression. Unlike medications, which affect the entire body as they pass through the blood-brain barrier, TMS therapy targets depression at the source. That means TMS patients don’t have to put up with drug-related side effects, such as gastrointestinal problems, trouble sleeping, or weight gain.

How does TMS therapy work?

The brain is an electro-chemical organ. For the better part of medical history, the world has focused on chemical aspects of the brain with medications. TMS takes a different approach by targeting neurons–brain cells that communicate with each other in circuits using neurotransmitters.

For those diagnosed with depression, specific neurocircuitry, or areas of the brain are known to be underactive. With the use of gentle magnetic pulses, TMS stimulates these areas of the brain to improve the brain’s ability to regulate mood.

What should I expect during treatment?

Patients recline in a private treatment room and may relax, read, work, or watch television during treatment. A TMS magnet is positioned over the patient’s head to deliver gentle magnetic pulses to stimulate areas of the brain underactive in those with depression. Each treatment sessions lasts about 30 minutes, after which patients can get back to their days right away, including work or school.

What are the side effects?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation has far fewer side effects compared to antidepressant medications. With more than 10,000 treatments performed in clinical trials, the most common side effect was mild-moderate scalp discomfort. Unlike medications, which affect the entire body as they pass through the blood-brain barrier, TMS therapy targets depression at the source. That means TMS does not have drug-related side effects like weight gain, sexual dysfunction or emotional flatness.

What about insurance?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy for depression is FDA cleared and covered by most insurance including Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield, Optum, MHN/Healthnet, Tricare, Cigna, Magellan and Beacon and more. Our phenomenal clinical team is always available to help prospective patients understand their coverage options. We know how important it is that those seeking help are able to get the treatment they need. Not to mention, at Neuro Wellness Spa, we handle all the paperwork.

What are patients saying about TMS?

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    Could TMS Therapy Be Right For You?

    I struggle with depression, OCD or anxiety.

    I am experiencing sadness, low energy, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, appetite changes, irritability or weight gain/loss.

    I have tried, or am currently on, 1 or more antidepressant medications.

    I have tried talk therapy

    Has your doctor/therapist suggested you try TMS?

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