TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-approved treatment recognized for its safety and effectiveness in addressing depression. Unlike medications, TMS offers targeted brain stimulation without the systemic effects often associated with pharmaceuticals. This non-invasive and medication-free therapy is administered in an outpatient setting through twenty-minute sessions, conducted five days a week over several weeks. Introduced in 2008, TMS has become a widely utilized treatment option, typically covered by most insurance plans.

TMS devices function externally, exerting influence on central nervous system activity through the application of potent magnetic fields to specific brain regions associated with depression. This stimulation induces neural plasticity, leading to the reconfiguration of communication pathways among neurons in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—the primary brain target known for its pivotal role in depression. Headache or transient tingling sensations at the stimulation site are the most commonly reported side effects, both of which can typically be alleviated with over-the-counter medication. Moreover, TMS treatment necessitates no anesthesia and allows patients to safely drive home afterward.

While numerous treatments exist for depression, initial interventions like antidepressants and psychotherapy may not yield positive outcomes for all individuals. This can be attributed to various factors, including adverse side effects, medication intolerance (e.g., fatigue), or simply an inadequate therapeutic response. Clinical trials indicate that between 12% to 31% of individuals prescribed medication may exhibit treatment resistance or not respond to treatment altogether.

The typical duration of response to TMS therapy spans slightly over a year on average. Approximately one-third of recipients achieve full remission, indicating complete alleviation of depressive symptoms. However, it’s essential to recognize that while these outcomes are promising, they may not be enduring, and some individuals might require booster treatments to sustain the benefits.

TMS is an incredibly powerful tool for treatment resistant depression. Approximately 50% to 65% of people with depression who have tried and failed to receive benefit from medications, experience a clinically meaningful response with TMS.