What is TMS?
TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It is a safe, effective, and non-invasive medical treatment prescribed by a psychiatrist for the treatment of depression. TMS was FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder in 2008.
Data from clinical studies shows that most people who try TMS (more than 50%) will experience significant improvement.1
TMS can help depressed individuals who have not had an adequate response to medications, or who have been unable to tolerate medications due to side effects. TMS can be utilized in conjunction with medications or as a stand-alone treatment.
How Does TMS Work?
Science suggests that depression is caused by underactive areas of the brain thought to regulate mood. TMS therapy uses a highly focused and precise, pulsed magnetic field to stimulate these regions of the brain.
One region of the brain that is affected for many people with depression is the pre-frontal cortex. Repeated activation of the left prefrontal cortex with TMS therapy is shown to produce antidepressant effects. Pulsed, magnetic fields induce small electric currents in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Local neurons (brain cells) depolarize and release neurotransmitters. Blood flow and glucose metabolism rise in the stimulated regions; this is thought to result in improved mood. 2,3
TMS Therapy uses a magnetic field similar to that of an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine.
TMS should not be used with patients who have non-removable, conductive metal in or near the head. It should also not be used with patients with seizure disorders. Only a physician can decide if TMS therapy is safe for you. Learn more about TMS safety and side effects.
What Does TMS Feel Like?
The TMS treatment coil delivers a series of rapid pulses which may feel like a tapping on the scalp. Some people describe the sensation as not bothersome, while others may describe it as feeling like a woodpecker might be tapping on their scalp. Most people find the procedure does not cause any notable discomfort. Those who report any pain or irritation usually find that this resolves within the first week of treatment. Your physician may suggest a mild, over-the-counter pain medicine like Motrin or Tylenol to take before each treatment.
- Dunner DL, et al. (2014) Clin Psychiatry. 75 (12): 1394-1401.
- Liston, C, et al. (2014) Biol Psychiatry, 76(7): 517-26. 01.
- Post A, et al. (2001). J Psychiatric Research, 35:193-215.
TMS is FDA-cleared since 2008
TMS is a non-drug, non-invasive treatment option
TMS is covered by most insurance (when insurance criteria are met)
of treatments have been delivered world-wide
TMS has non-systemic side effects
TMS Therapy Services at Sheppard Pratt
At Sheppard Pratt, we have been safely and effectively providing TMS services for over a decade. We were one of the first sites in the country to provide TMS for people with depression under the leadership of Dr. Scott Aaronson, a recognized world leader in the field of TMS.
We offer outpatient TMS, meaning that patients do not have to be in the hospital to receive TMS therapy. Here is what you can expect from a typical TMS course of treatment at Sheppard Pratt:
- A comprehensive evaluation with one of our expert psychiatrists to ensure that TMS is the right option for you
- A motor threshold determination to find the dose or strength of TMS that is precise and right just for you
- A cortical mapping of the brain region to be treated to make sure the TMS coil is placed on the head in the spot just right for you
- 20 - 30 treatments administered 5 days/week, usually for 4 - 6 weeks
- Patients will come in daily, Monday – Friday for their treatment
- Treatment length can vary, but on average is about 20 - 40 minutes long
TMS does not involve anesthesia or cause a change in level of alertness. During the treatment, patients are seated and remain awake. You can watch TV, listen to music, read, or talk. The tapping sounds of the TMS device are somewhat loud, so we supply earplugs that can be worn during the treatment for comfort and hearing protection. Because of TMS’s non-systemic nature, you can go about your everyday life when your TMS session is over.
Why Choose Sheppard Pratt for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
A Multidisciplinary TMS Team
Our multidisciplinary team consists of:
- Adult psychiatrists and registered nurses with extensive experience and specialty certification in TMS and neurostimulation
- TMS clinical technicians with specialized, supervised training in TMS
Meet our team members.
Chief Science Officer, Institute for Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics; Psychiatrist, The Retreat at Sheppard PrattSpecialties:Adult Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Depression, Medication Management, Mood Disorders, Psychopharmacology, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Treatment-resistant Depression
Service Chief, TMSSpecialties:Adult Psychiatry, Anxiety Disorders, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eating Disorders, LGBTQ+ Mental Health Issues, Mood Disorders, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Transference-focused Psychotherapy, Treatment-resistant Depression
Unparalleled TMS Experience
Sheppard Pratt was one of the first treatment sites providing TMS in the nation. We have been providing effective TMS therapy since 2009 and were participants in TMS research studies that were instrumental in gaining FDA approval for TMS.