Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation FAQs
What is TMS Therapy?
TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. It is used to treat depression by stimulating the brain non-invasively using electromagnetic fields, similar to those produced by an MRI machine. During TMS Therapy, a magnetic field is administered in very short pulses to the part of the brain that research has demonstrated to be associated with depression. The typical initial course of treatment is about 19-37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.
How does TMS Therapy work?
The NeuroStar TMS Therapy system uses short pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate the area of the brain that is thought to function abnormally in patients with depression. The magnetic field produces an electric current in the brain that stimulates the brain cells (neurons). This results in changes that are thought to be beneficial in the treatment of depression.
Is NeuroStar TMS therapy covered by my insurance?
It usually takes time for healthcare insurers to establish coverage policies for newly approved treatments such as NeuroStar TMS. However, many commercial and Medicare plans have recognized the effectiveness of treating depression with TMS Therapy and now cover TMS as part of their plans. See here for a full list of insurance plans that cover TMS.
Is TMS Therapy a good alternative for patients who cannot tolerate the side effects associated with antidepressant medications?
NeuroStar® is non-systemic (does not circulate in the blood throughout the body), so it does not have side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, sedation, etc. The most common side effects reported during clinical trials were headache and scalp discomfort – generally mild to moderate – occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment.
Is TMS Therapy like other alternative therapies which use magnets to treat some illnesses?
No. TMS Therapy involves a unique method of using pulsed magnetic fields for therapeutic benefit. The intensity of the magnetic field is similar to that of the magnetic fields used in magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. These techniques differ radically from the popular use of low intensity, static magnetic fields. These products deliver weak and undirected static fields that are not capable of activating brain cells.
Is TMS Therapy like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?
What is a typical course of treatment with NeuroStar TMS Therapy?
What are the potential risks of NeuroStar TMS Therapy?
Can NeuroStar TMS Therapy cause brain tumors?
No, NeuroStar TMS Therapy uses the same type and strength of magnetic fields as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), which have been used in tens of millions of patients around the world and have not been shown to cause tumors. The magnetic energy used in a full course of TMS Therapy is a small fraction of just one brain scan with an MRI.
Does TMS Therapy cause memory loss?
No, the NeuroStar TMS Therapy system was systematically evaluated for its effects on memory. Clinical trials demonstrated that NeuroStar TMS Therapy does not result in any negative effects on memory or concentration.
Is TMS Therapy uncomfortable?
How long does the antidepressant effect last? Will I need any therapy beyond the first treatment regimen?
NeuroStar TMS is the only TMS system with the durability of its effects established over 12 months. In a clinical trial, 2 out of 3 patients who had either responded to treatment or completely remitted their depression symptoms reported 12 months later that they remained at the level they were at the end of the trial. Additionally, after the trial, only 1 in 3 patients needed to return for ‘maintenance’ TMS sessions.
Can I also take antidepressant(s) if I am receiving NeuroStar TMS Therapy?
Yes. In clinical trials, NeuroStar TMS Therapy was safely administered with and without other antidepressant medications.