Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure. It uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerves in the brain. TMS treatment is gentle and improves the symptoms of depression for most people. It avoids common antidepressant side effects and does not affect cognitive function. TMS is an option when other depression treatments haven't worked.

In this video, Dr. David Eiler explains Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS. It is a gentle, noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields.

TMS in short

Are you not responding to antidepressants? TMS therapy might be the solution for you.

  • Covered by most insurance providers
  • Does not affect cognitive function
  • Free from common antidepressant drug side effects
  • May be used with or without antidepressants (determined by physician)
  • Most common side effects from TMS are headache and nausea
  • Patients are able to resume daily activities right after treatment
  • Safe, with high tolerability
  • Series of pulsed magnetic stimuli to the brain

I felt like a cloud was lifted; like I was coming out of a fog. It made me more accessible to my therapy and to my family, and able to engage in my surroundings and with the people that want to support and help me.

TMS patient

TMS treatment schedule

Your first TMS treatment will depend on your specific need and diagnosis. Generally, we will determine how much stimulation is needed during the first session. This session can last about 30 minutes to an hour.

After the first treatment, all other sessions last approximately 5 minutes. Patients will typically receive treatments 5 days per week, Monday through Friday, for 5-6 weeks. There will be a total of 36 treatments.

Safety precautions for TMS patients

In general, TMS is not safe for patients who have metal or magnetic-sensitive implants in their head. TMS also isn't safe for patients who have implants within 12 inches of the treatment coil, such as:

  • Aneurism clips or coils
  • Brain stents
  • Bullet fragments
  • Cardiac pacemakers or defibrillators
  • Cochlear implants

TMS may also not be safe if you have a history of seizures or other medical conditions. Before starting TMS, we will review your medical history with you.

Possible side effects

Common side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Mild to moderate discomfort at the stimulation site
  • Twitching of facial muscles

In rare cases, TMS can cause an unintentional seizure, This can occur in less than 0.1% of patients.

TMS medical insurance coverage

Insurance companies have requirements for approving TMS. Adults with major depression disorder (MDD) can be eligible if they have failed treatments in the past. Talk to your doctor to learn more about your specific diagnosis.