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Frequently Asked Questions

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

What does TMS treat?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, also known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation in which a magnetic field is used to stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain that controls mood. These magnetic pulses have a positive effect on the brain’s neurotransmitter levels, making long-term remission from depression possible. TMS is typically used when other depression treatments have not been effective.

What is TMS therapy?

What is a typical TMS session like?

TMS is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat individuals with severe depression who have not responded to medications. TMS is also being used off label for PTSD, OCD, Tinnitus, and other mood disorders, however this is not covered by insurance.

During a TMS session, you will recline comfortably in the treatment chair. A small magnetic coil is placed lightly on your head. You will then hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping sensation on your head as the coil painlessly stimulates nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression. Patients typically listen to music or audio books while they are receiving treatment. You are then able to resume normal activities following the treatment and can drive yourself to and from sessions.

How long does TMS take to start working?

Compared to most antidepressants, which usually take about six weeks to show results, TMS works quickly. Patients report changes in mood starting as early as the first week of treatment.

Who administers TMS?

What are the side effects of TMS?

TMS therapy involves a series of treatment sessions. Treatment sessions vary in length depending on the TMS coil used and the number of pulses delivered but typically last around 30 – 40 minutes. Patients receive TMS 5 days a week. A typical course of TMS is 4 to 6 weeks. However, this can vary depending on an individual’s response to treatment.

How long is a TMS procedure?

TMS is prescribed by a physician trained in administering the treatment protocol and the initial motor threshold. The treatment itself is administered by an experienced technician under the supervision of the physician.

Who cannot get TMS therapy?

TMS is well-tolerated and associated with few side-effects. The most common side-effect is headaches. These are mild and generally diminish over the course of the treatment. Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to treat these headaches.

Patients with any type of non-removable metal in their heads (with the exception of braces or dental fillings), should not receive TMS. Failure to follow this rule could cause the object to heat up, move, or malfunction, and result in serious injury or death. The following is a list of metal implants that can prevent a patient from receiving TMS:

  • Aneurysm clips or coils

  • Stents in the neck or brain

  • Deep brain stimulators

  • Electrodes to monitor brain activity

  • Metallic implants in your ears and eyes

  • Shrapnel or bullet fragments in or near the head

  • Facial tattoos with metallic or magnetic-sensitive ink

  • Other metal devices or object implanted in or near the head

Can I receive TMS if my insurance plan does not cover it?

At Charak Center, we will make every attempt to receive a prior authorization from your insurance carrier for TMS treatment. However, if all attempts are unsuccessful, then you can still receive TMS through our self-pay program. Price per treatment will vary depending on your diagnosis and the severity of your condition. Please give us a call to set up a consultation.