Frequently Asked Questions

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 your brain that research has demonstrated to be associated with depression. The typical initial course of treatment is about 37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.

The 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.

TMS therapy 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.

TMS therapy has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of patients with depression who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication. Like any treatment option, you and your doctor should work together to find the most appropriate treatment option for you.

No. TMS Therapy involves a unique method of using pulsed magnetic fields for potential 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.

No, the two procedures are very different. While both are effective in the treatment of depression, there are many differences in safety and tolerability.

During the TMS Therapy procedure, patients sit in a chair and are awake and alert throughout the entire 37-minute procedure – no sedation is used with TMS Therapy. Patients can transport themselves to and from treatment.

In over 10,000 active treatments with TMS therapy in clinical trials, no seizures were observed. TMS Therapy was also shown to have no negative effects on memory function in these studies.

In contrast, "shock therapy," or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), intentionally causes a seizure. Patients receiving ECT must be sedated with general anesthesia and paralyzed with muscle relaxants. Recovery from an ECT treatment session occurs slowly, and patients are usually closely monitored for minutes or a few hours after a treatment.

Short-term confusion and memory loss are common, and long-term disruptions in memory have been shown to occur and may persist indefinitely in some people. Because of the side effects associated with ECT, a significant amount of caregiver support is required.

In clinical trials, patients received TMS therapy 5 times per week for 37 minutes sessions over 4-6 weeks.

Patients treated with TMS therapy should receive treatment for a minimum of four weeks with additional treatments based on clinical judgment.

In most patients, the clinical benefit of TMS therapy was maintained through 6 months of follow-up study. Talk to your doctor about your long-term treatment path.

Yes. In clinical trials, TMS therapy was safely administered with and without other antidepressant medications.

TMS therapy is covered by many insurance companies. WellMind Center will help you seek coverage and reimbursement from your insurance company. Kaiser Permanente now contracts directly with WellMind Center for TMS therapy and it is very easy to get coverage with your Kaiser physician’s referral.

To get you started with treatment as soon as possible, out-of-pocket payment may be required. You can also use your Healthcare Savings Account or other financing options.