What is TMS?

What is transcranial magnetic stimulation?

In 2008, the FDA approved the use of Transcranial magnetic stimulation, TMS, as a treatment for major depression and a medically cleared as a proven effective solution for other mental disorders.  TMS is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. TMS devices operate completely outside of the body and affect central nervous system activity by applying powerful magnetic fields to specific areas of the brain that we know are involved in depression.

TMS therapy provides local electromagnetic stimulation to specific brain regions known to be directly associated with mood regulation. These areas are known to be underactive in those diagnosed with depression.  Stimulating these areas can improve the brain’s ability to regulate mood.

TMS doesn’t require anesthesia and it is generally exceptionally well tolerated as compared to the side effects often seen with medications and electroconvulsive therapy, (ECT). The most common side effect is a headache during or after treatment. A rare but serious side effect is seizures, and TMS may not be appropriate for people at high risk such as those with epilepsy, a history of head injury, or other serious neurologic issues.

TMS is a safe and effective treatment for individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) who have not experienced satisfactory improvement from antidepressant medication or who feel medication is causing unwanted side effects. TMS Therapy can be used as a stand-alone treatment or used in conjunction with medication.

Scientists still debate about the best position to place the electromagnetic coil on the head, the best frequency and intensity for the pulses, and whether the procedure is more effective when delivered as a single treatment or with booster sessions.

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