Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an outpatient, non-invasive treatment designed for patients with hard-to-treat depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD.) TMS works by delivering an electromagnetic field to the brain to stimulate underactive neurons in the areas that control mood and cognition. Treatment includes roughly 30-36 treatment sessions that are each 18-22 minutes long and are scheduled over the course of nine weeks.
Cleared by the FDA in 2008, TMS is indicated for patients who are at least 18 years old and have been diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. This means a patient has undergone a trial of psychotherapy and one or more trials of antidepressant medication without significant improvement. TMS has been approved for and may be appropriate for women who are pregnant or suffering from postpartum depression.
- Rate of Success: Two-thirds of patients who completed TMS treatment either experienced full remission of their depression symptoms or noticeable improvements.
- Minimal Side Effects: TMS is a non-systemic outpatient procedure, allowing patients to drive to and from appointments and resume normal activities immediately following treatment. Unlike systemic treatment for depression (medication or ECT), the most common side effect of TMS is scalp discomfort.
- Stay on Medication: During TMS treatment, patients are encouraged to continue psychotherapy and medication as prescribed by their regular psychiatrist.
Talk to your doctor if you feel TMS is right for you.
Tips for talking with your doctor
- Review the following questions with your doctor to determine if TMS is right for you:
- Do you have MDD without psychotic features?
- Are you pregnant or suffering from postpartum depression?
- Have you attempted 2 or more antidepressant medications without improvement of your symptoms?
- If your doctor is not familiar with TMS you may want to let them know that TMS was cleared by the FDA in 2008 to treat MDD. Encourage your doctor to visit our TMS page for more information.
- Your doctor can make a referral by completing the referral form.
- TMS may not be right for you if you have non-removable metallic objects in or around the head. For more information, consult your doctor.
Together, you and your doctor can determine whether the addition of TMS holds the key to lasting relief from your depressive symptoms.