Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a procedure in which magnetic field pulses are generated and aimed at an area of the brain that has been demonstrated to function abnormally in patients with depression and mood regulation issues. This magnetic field is the same type and strength as those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

Conditions often treated with TMS include: 

TMS is performed under the supervision of a specially-trained psychiatrist. During TMS therapy, a patient sits in a chair while a device held above their head generates magnetic field pulses aimed at an area of the brain. 

The pulses of the magnetic field move into the brain where they produce small electrical currents that activate brain cells. The amount of electricity created is very small and cannot be felt by the patient, but the electric charges cause the neurons in the brain to become active. 

These electrical currents are thought to lead to a release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These naturally produced substances can help with mood regulation as well as other physical functions. 

As with an MRI (another medical intervention that uses a magnetic field), the TMS patient does not feel anything during the procedure, which takes about 40. TMS therapy does not require anesthesia or sedation, and the patient remains awake and alert during the procedure.

People can receive TMS as an inpatient procedure, while in the hospital. They can also receive TMS as an outpatient procedure, meaning you or your loved one can go home shortly after the therapy session. 

The number of treatments recommended is based on the individual patient's need and response to the treatment. For most patients, treatment is administered daily for four to six weeks, the equivalent of 20-30 treatments. Most people continue taking medications for their mental health after receiving TMS.