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What is TMS Therapy?

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, or repetitive TMS therapy for short, is a cutting-edge, non-invasive, non-medication, non-systemic brain stimulation treatment that has been approved by the FDA in treating major depression (major depressive disorder) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and has also shown promising results in treating a range of psychiatric conditions. This blog post will delve into the intricacies of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment and its effectiveness for patients struggling with depression and other mental health issues.

How does TMS Therapy Work?

A course of transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy consists of routine treatment sessions, typically performed two to five times a week. After a patient arrives at a repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation clinic, a magnetic coil that contains an electromagnet is placed over the patient’s head and emits gentle magnetic pulses that stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain responsible for mood regulation. TMS therapy is performed on an outpatient level and has little to no impact on the patient’s daily routine. There is no downtime or recovery period necessary after the treatment, allowing individuals to continue with their regular activities right after the session.

What Are the Benefits of TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy offers several benefits for individuals seeking treatment for depression and other mental health conditions. It is a non-invasive, non-drug, non-systemic procedure that does not involve surgery or the use of medications. It provides an extremely effective alternative for individuals who have not responded well to traditional treatments.


One of the key advantages of transcranial magnetic stimulation over other treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is its non-invasive nature. This means patients can undergo this outpatient procedure without general anesthesia or any invasive procedures. Patients can drive themselves to and from their appointment and can read, watch television, or use their phones during the treatment session.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation is not a medication. TMS treatment uses magnetic pulses that stimulate nerve cells in the brain. This brain stimulation has been proven to successfully treat symptoms of major depression, OCD, and other mental health conditions. In fact, some studies suggest that noninvasive brain stimulation therapies such as TMS therapy are even more effective than standard antidepressant medication. TMS therapy is a vital resource for people who struggle with medication-resistant depression and who have not had success with traditional antidepressant medication. And, although TMS treatment does not involve any medication, TMS can be performed alongside antidepressant medication like SSRIs.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is considered a non-systemic treatment because it does not involve the use of medications or substances that circulate throughout the entire body. TMS therapy only affects a specific, targeted part of the brain, and the magnetic pulses created by the TMS device do not travel beyond the targeted area of the brain. This stands in stark contrast to traditional antidepressant medications, which have a wide range of side effects that can affect the entire body.

Side Effects of TMS Therapy

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is an extremely well-tolerated treatment, with minimal discomfort during the sessions and very few reported side effects. Commonly reported side effects include:

  • Tapping Sensations: Some patients report feeling tapping sensations around the head area during treatment.
  • Mild Headache: Sometimes, mild headaches are reported, but typically subside shortly after the treatment session and can be treated with over-the-counter medication like Advil.
  • Mild Sleep Disruption: Sleep patterns may be temporarily affected but usually return to normal soon after treatments end.

Many patients report absolutely zero side effects. Overall, TMS therapy provides a safe and convenient option for individuals looking to improve their depression symptoms and mental well-being.

How Effective is TMS?

TMS is a safe, highly effective and FDA-cleared treatment option for depression, OCD, migraine and cigarette cessation. Since 2009, over 75% of Neuro Wellness Spa patients have experienced symptom relief with TMS therapy. In clinical trial, TMS therapy was twice as effective as oral antidepressants at helping patients achieve remission. Length of remission depends on many factors including:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Therapy
  • Severity of illness
  • Lifestyle

Transcranial magnetic stimulation has far fewer side effects than antidepressant medications. With more than 10,000 treatments performed in clinical trials, the most common side effect was temporary and mild scalp discomfort during active treatment. Unlike medications, which affect the entire body as they pass through the blood-brain barrier, TMS therapy treats the brain directly.

The goal of mental health treatment is to achieve full remission. Patients should not tolerate lingering symptoms or unwanted side effects. TMS is an effective treatment alternative to medication and therapy that helps patients feel all the way better.

What does TMS Treat?

TMS has been around since the 1980’s. It was originally used as a mapping technique to map the brain to determine which parts of the brain are responsible for which actions. TMS was FDA-cleared for depression in 2008, for migraine in 2013, for OCD in 2018 and for cigarette cessation in 2019. Research documents TMS to also be helpful for bipolar depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment. Currently, most insurance companies cover TMS for depression. At Neuro Wellness Spa, we’ve helped thousands of patients achieve remission with TMS from:

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Peripartum Depression
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Teen Depression
  • Treatment Resistant Depression
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
  • Severe Depression
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety
  • Migraine
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Memory Loss
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Addiction Relapse Prevention
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Borderline Personality Disorder

How Does TMS Compare to Other Depression Treatments?

Research shows 1 in 10 Americans utilize some form of antidepressant medication. Antidepressant medications are diffuse, go throughout your entire body, and thus cause many side effects. They work chemically by altering the amount of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine (the three neurotransmitters most responsible for anxiety and depression) available in the brain. Side effects of antidepressants may include:

  • Nausea
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Some people with depression and other mental health conditions are able to achieve symptom remission with medication. However, it may take up to 10 weeks after starting an antidepressant to notice improvement, and even then, symptom improvement only occurs in about one third of patients.

In contrast, TMS is a neuro-modulatory technique. TMS changes the way the neurons fire and function rather than just allowing the neurons to be bathed in more chemicals. TMS is a focalized treatment that targets the precise neural circuitry known to be not working well in depression, OCD, anxiety and more. TMS is more than twice as effective as medications. Unlike medications which can take 10 weeks to exert their full effects, most patients experience improvement in 2 weeks with TMS therapy. Plus, TMS therapy is covered by most insurance.

Because TMS is non-invasive, non-systemic and has fewer side effects than medications and the ability to work faster, many people who prefer not to use medications, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, choose TMS over other treatment options.

TMS Therapy Vs Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy, more commonly known as “shock therapy”, is an older method of treating depression which is sometimes confused with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy. Although transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are both non-pharmacological treatments for mental health disorders, they are extremely different treatments in practice.

TMS offers several advantages compared to ECT. TMS is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that does not necessitate general anesthesia or seizures and comes with very little, if any, side effects. ECT, on the other hand, is an invasive procedure that requires general anesthesia and frequently brings severe side effects including memory loss, confusion, and sluggish cognitive tempo.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is not shock therapy. Because TMS is noninvasive, TMS treatment is suitable for outpatient procedures and reduces the risk of cognitive side effects commonly associated with ECT. Additionally, patients undergoing TMS typically experience milder side effects or no side effects rather than more severe ECT side effects like memory loss or confusion.

TMS Therapy for Treatment-resistant Patients

Despite its relative novelty as a therapeutic approach, transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown promising results in effectively treating patients experiencing recurrent major depression symptoms after multiple unsuccessful trials of antidepressant medications. This innovative method might prove particularly beneficial for older adults struggling with severe depressive states.

Success Rates in Treatment-resistant Patients

Studies have demonstrated that TMS therapy can provide significant relief to those suffering from treatment-resistant depression, showing improvement in up to 58% of cases and achieving remission rates of around 37%. TMS is an incredible tool for those suffering from major depressive disorder useful alternative or supplementary approach for those who have not seen the desired effects from other treatments.

Benefits for Older Adults with Severe Depression

In addition to its success among treatment-resistant patients, TMS therapy may be especially advantageous for older adults dealing with severe depression. As age increases, the likelihood of adverse side effects from antidepressant medications also rises; thus, noninvasive treatments like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation offer a safer alternative without compromising efficacy.

TMS Therapy for Treatment-resistant Patients has been shown to be effective in many cases, and the use of computational modeling and optimization can further improve its efficacy. By leveraging these techniques, we can ensure that TMS protocols are standardized with greater robustness and reproducibility.

Is TMS Therapy Right For You?

Typically, psychiatric medications and talk therapy are the first interventions for mental health treatment. However, in many cases, talk therapy and medications are not effective. Additionally, it may take up to 10 weeks to notice any improvement with medication. Even then, symptom improvement only occurs in about one third of patients and many people experience severe side effects as well. TMS works within two weeks and is twice as effective as medications. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, anxiety or OCD and conventional treatment options have not provided relief, TMS may be an effective treatment option. 

  • Do you have a clinical diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
  • Have you tried medications to treat depression/OCD?
  • Have you experienced side effects with your depression/OCD medication?
  • Are your depression/OCD symptoms interfering with your daily life?
  • Are your depressive/OCD symptoms negatively affecting your leisure activities, or affecting your relationship with friends and family?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, TMS may be your next step. Contact your doctor or call Neuro Wellness Spa today for a consultation.

Before pursuing transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), you should undergo a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional who can assess your unique circumstances and discuss whether TMS is right for you.

As research on TMS continues to evolve, staying informed about the latest developments in the field and discussing them with your healthcare provider can help you make an informed decision about whether TMS is right for you.

In conclusion, TMS holds promise as a valuable tool in the treatment of certain mental health conditions. However, the decision to pursue TMS should be made in consultation with a medical professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Mental Health and TMS Therapy

TMS, a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, has demonstrated efficacy in treating various neuropsychiatric disorders such as treatment-resistant depression and is an outpatient procedure without cognitive impairment or severe side effects. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy, it is an outpatient procedure without cognitive impairment. The treatment process involves comfortable outpatient sessions with mild side effects experienced during treatments. However, there are potential risks and contraindications to consider for specific patient groups.

Computational modeling has helped standardize intensity levels in TMS treatments and improve robustness and reproducibility in research. While efficacy varies based on individual factors, TMS therapy remains a promising alternative treatment for those struggling with their mental health who need alternative therapies for treatment-resistant diagnoses, without the need for drug administration.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, contact Neuro Wellness Spa today to schedule a consultation with one of our in-person or online psychiatrists and learn more about TMS therapy. Our experienced team can help determine if TMS treatment is right for you and explain how transcranial magnetic stimulation works to alleviate symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and other conditions.

TMS Therapy FAQs

Does TMS therapy really work?

Yes, TMS therapy has been proven effective for many patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression and other mental health disorders. Studies show that about 50-60% of patients experience significant improvement after undergoing TMS treatments, while around one-third achieve full remission. The FDA approved it as a safe alternative to traditional therapies.

Is TMS good for your brain?

TMS can be beneficial for individuals struggling with certain mental health conditions by stimulating specific areas of the brain responsible for mood regulation without causing cognitive impairment or systemic side effects like medications might. It’s considered a non-invasive and targeted approach that may help improve overall brain function in those affected by these disorders.

What is the success rate of TMS treatment?

The success rate of TMS varies depending on individual factors but generally falls between 50-60%. Some studies report even higher rates of response (up to 70%) when personalized protocols are used based on computational modeling techniques. Long-term follow-up data also suggests sustained benefits over time with periodic maintenance sessions if needed.

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    Could TMS Therapy Be Right For You?

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    Has your doctor/therapist suggested you try TMS?

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