What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is a foreign concept to many Americans. While antidepressants are widely known, TMS remains a bit of a mystery. However, the benefits of TMS are helpful in treating major depressive disorder. Learn more about TMS and how it can be used as a safe and effective treatment for depression.

How Does TMS Work?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a noninvasive form of treatment. It uses magnets to stimulate the left cortex of the brain, which is typically underactive in patients with depression. The Mayo Clinic offers an overview of TMS, stating, “During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead. The electromagnet painlessly delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression. And it may activate regions of the brain that have decreased activity in people with depression.” Some may worry about the length of a TMS treatment session, however, they vary in length but one session typically lasts about 30 to 40 minutes.

Why Use TMS?

TMS is an FDA approved treatment for dealing with depression. It can provide benefits for patients who may not respond to antidepressants. It can also be an effective solution for patients struggling with the side effects of antidepressant medications. TMS is usually used after a patient has tried other depression treatments that have not been effective.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) highlighted a study published in Psychiatry about the side effects of antidepressants. In the summary, NCBI states, “Thirty-eight percent of the approximately 700 patients surveyed reported having experienced a side effect as a result of taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant; the most common side effects mentioned were sexual functioning, sleepiness, and weight gain. Only 25 percent of the side effects were considered “very bothersome” or “extremely bothersome.” Regardless of how bothersome the side effects were, however, only 40 percent of patients mentioned the side effects to their prescribing physicians.”

In addition to helping avoid the side effects of antidepressant medications, TMS is an effective treatment for those who are not responding to medication. It has been proven to be effective in 60% of patients in clinical studies. Additionally, an article in Mental Health Daily states, “Researchers concluded that TMS is an effective option for those who don’t respond to pharmaceutical antidepressants. An estimated 37% of patients experienced complete remission, and patient self-reports (PHQ and the IDS-SR)  also revealed substantial symptomatic improvement.”

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has fewer side effects than antidepressants. In fact, compared to the long list of side effects patients can experience while taking antidepressants, TMS has a minimal risk of side effects. Johns Hopkins Medical Center highlights this point, stating, “rTMS is well-tolerated and associated with few side-effects and only a small percentage of patients discontinue treatment because of these. The most common side-effect, which is reported in about half of patients treated with rTMS, is headaches. These are mild and generally diminish over the course of the treatment. Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to treat these headaches. About one third of patients may experience painful scalp sensations or facial twitching with rTMS pulses. These too tend to diminish over the course of treatment although adjustments can be made immediately in coil positioning and stimulation settings to reduce discomfort.”

TMS Therapy Providers

One of the most common questions patients ask is whether TMS is covered under their insurance plan. Since it is an FDA approved treatment, it is covered under all major insurance plans. This helps lower the financial burden that patients would otherwise experience.

TMS Center of Utah uses NeuroStar, which has been clinically proven to be both safe and effective. NeuroStar is a leader in TMS, developing treatments that achieve results. The NeuroStar website highlights these facts, stating, “NeuroStar TMS Therapy for depression has the largest clinical data set of any TMS treatment. Clinical studies with 800 patients have shown that NeuroStar TMS Therapy can help achieve remission for patients living with depression. For many patients, depression symptoms significantly improved or went away after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment with NeuroStar TMS Therapy:

  • 1 in 2 patients experienced significant improvement
  • 1 in 3 patients were symptom free

In an NIMH-funded, independent, randomized controlled trial, patients treated with TMS using the NeuroStar TMS System, were four times more likely to achieve remission compared to patients receiving sham treatment (P = 0.0173; odds ratio = 4.05).

Dr. William Bunn is an expert in TMS therapy, and one of the practitioners at Strive TMS. He has been cited as an expert in numerous publications including the Daily Herald and Get Strong Health.

TMS Therapy for Depression

If you believe that you or a loved one are a good candidate for TMS, we would be happy to answer your questions! Please contact Strive TMS by calling:

801-494-1922 (Utah Residents)

702-291-2967 (Nevada Residents)