What is TMS Therapy?

TMS therapy is a type of therapy that is commonly used to treat depression and other mental and cognitive disorders. Read on to find out more.

Understanding TMS

When we think of treatments for mental illness, therapy and medication usually come to mind. But there are many innovative treatments that aren’t as obvious and may be introduced when medication and therapy are not working. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is one example.

TMS is a non-invasive therapy that involves a magnetic field that causes an electric current to run through a specific part of the brain. During the procedure, an electric pulse generator connected to a magnetic coil is placed on the scalp. The generator produces an electric current within the coil that causes an inverted electric charge in the brain.

TMS Therapy

Purpose of TMS

The purpose of TMS therapy is to produce changes in the central nervous system, which may be beneficial to cognitive and emotional health.

TMS Therapy in Practice

How TMS Therapy Works

During a TMS session, the electromagnetic coil is placed against the scalp near the patient’s forehead. This painlessly charges the nerve cells in the corresponding part of the brain.

The patient is placed in a reclining chair and given ear plugs to wear. The coil is switched on and off producing tapping or clicking sounds that last a few seconds.

The doctor determines the amount of energy needed by increasing the magnetic threshold until the patient’s hands or fingers twitch. This signifies the motor threshold. The provider will go from there to adjust the treatment based on the results and side effects.

TMS therapy lasts about forty minutes. During that time, the patient may feel slight scalp discomfort, but no real pain. The discomfort may last for some time after therapy is over, but will dissipate.

No one is sure exactly how TMS provides the results it does, but it is known that it affects the part of the brain responsible for mood and depression. It can be helpful in minimizing depression in people with mental health disorders.

Perks of TMS Treatment

There are many reasons why TMS treatment might be a good option. It is important to understand what TMS constitutes in order to better assess whether or not it fits what you might need. TMS will be detailed below:

  • Non-Invasive: TMS doesn’t require surgery or the recovery times that come with it. It takes place outside the body, so it is less likely to produce side effects. TMS is specific to the scalp and brain – the rest of the body is not involved. There is no risk of full body effects.
  • Proven to Work: About 50-60% of people who were unable to overcome depression through medications and therapy alone have found TMS to be effective.1
  • Targeted: TMS treatment goes directly to the source of the problem – the part of the brain that controls mood and depression – to provide effective results.
  • Well-Tolerated: Most people that get magnetic brain stimulation for depression tolerate it well and do not experience serious adverse side effects.

Conditions That Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Can Treat

TMS therapy is best known for providing positive results in people with depression, but there are other conditions it can treat.


Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by excessive fear and worry. TMS has been shown to provide significant benefits for individuals that deal with anxiety, along with comorbid conditions of depression.2


PTSD is caused by a traumatic incident that occurred at some point in a person’s life. It can lead to flashbacks, nightmares, and intense feelings of anxiety. A study looked at patients dealing with PTSD and depression and showed that TMS was helpful in relieving symptoms in about one third of patients.3

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that results in a loss of cells in the brain and spinal cord. A recent study showed that magnetic brain therapy may be helpful in reducing symptoms. Results revealed that participants experienced an improvement in all symptoms when TMS therapy was provided at low and high frequencies, although high frequency transmissions produced more significant results.4


ADHD is characterized by excessive restlessness and a lack of focus. It commonly occurs in children but may continue into adulthood. TMS treatment has been shown to improve communications between neurons to enhance neurotransmitter production and improve ADHD symptoms.

Substance Abuse Disorders

Magnetic brain therapy may reduce brain activity to change how an individual responds to cravings for certain substances, putting them in a better place to get past their dependency issues.

For alcohol use disorders, a TMS procedure calms the area of the brain responsible for alcohol cravings and can help minimize misuse symptoms.

Types of TMS Therapy

There are two main types of TMS therapy: traditional TMS and deep TMS.

Standard TMS

Standard TMS treatment uses a figure 8 coil that reaches a depth of about 7 cm. It is a focal treatment that targets one part of the brain. For deep TMS, this method uses a patented H coil that is embedded inside a helmet worn by the patient during the treatment process. It penetrates up to 1.25 cm. It also has a broader spectrum that reaches more areas of the brain than standard TMS therapy does.

Deep TMS

Deep TMS’s ability to reach more of the brain provides increased effectiveness, as many experts believe various parts of the brain are involved in mental disorders. While a standard treatment can provide similar results with the addition of expensive equipment and devices, deep TMS works more powerfully without the need for costly add-ons. Deep TMS can also be used for patients where doctors don’t quite know where to focus their efforts yet.

A Deeper Look at TMS Therapy

Side Effects of TMS Therapy

While TMS therapy can be effective in relieving several mental symptoms and cognitive disorders, it comes with its share of possible side effects.

Tension Headaches

Patients are likely to experience headaches and lightheadedness after a TMS procedure. However, these side effects will go away after a few sessions. Interestingly enough, TMS is also said to relieve headaches in some instances.

Facial Twitching During Treatment

Because TMS relies on magnetic waves, patients may experience facial twitching during the procedure. While they may cause some discomfort, they will go away on their own once the session is over.

Painful Scalp During Treatment

About one third of patients will experience pain in the scalp area during depression magnetic therapy. This tends to dissipate over time, but discomfort can also be reduced by changing the position of the coil or by adjusting stimulation settings during treatment.

Temporary Hearing Problems

TMS produces loud noises, and earplugs are often given to patients. However, some patients still complain of hearing issues both during and after therapy. There is no evidence that it can cause permanent hearing loss if earplugs are used.

Who Can Benefit from TMS Treatment?

Many people can benefit from TMS to help with mental health issues, but that’s not the only reason individuals choose it.

Avoiding Side Effects of Medication

Medications are available for many issues, but the drugs cause side effects which can be ongoing for as long as they are used for treatment. While TMS therapy comes with its share of side effects, they are often temporary.

Planning to Become Pregnant

TMS is preferred when someone is pregnant because it will not stay in the system where it can harm the baby like medication might. However, it is wise to talk to your doctor before starting TMS treatment if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

History of Seizures

Due to the magnetic activity, seizures are a rare side effect of depression magnetic therapy. But they are more likely to occur if you have seizures or have a history of seizures. If you have had seizures in the past or are presently experiencing them, it’s best to speak to your doctor before moving forward with treatment.

Do Not Have a Metal Implant in Your Head

The strong magnetic field TMS produces can interact with metal implants in your head or in any other part of the body. While a metal implant does not eliminate the possibility of TMS treatment, it is best to speak with a medical provider before proceeding.

How Does TMS Work in the Brain to Treat Depression?

TMS works by targeting the area of the brain responsible for mood. When someone’s mood is negatively impacted, it can lead to depression. This is something TMS aims to alleviate, enabling you or your loved one to regain autonomy over their life and regain a sense of happiness and wellness overall.

TMS is effective due to a wide variety of reasons. It activates inactive sections of the brain that may be causing depression and can help in multiple other areas of depression symptoms as well.

NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator

There are different types of transcranial magnetic therapy providers, but NeuroStar is a trusted brand. Over four million advanced Neurostar treatments have been provided, yielding an 83% success rate.5

TMS Allows Neurons to Change

Over time, TMS therapy will change the way neurons communicate with each other, allowing the formation of new communication pathways and positive and healthy changes in behavior.

Who Should Avoid Trans Magnetic Stimulation?

TMS should be avoided by people who have the following conditions:

Deep Brain Stimulators

Deep brain stimulation involves the implantation of a neurostimulator that sends electrical impulses via implanted electrodes to various parts of the brain. They are meant to treat movement disorders, epilepsy, and certain mental disorders. The magnetic pulses of TMS therapy will interfere with the stimulators leading to negative consequences.


An electrode implant is an electronic device implanted into the brain or other tissues in the body. It may record electrical impulses in the brain, or it may be used to stimulate neurons. It can interfere with magnetic stimulation for depression and vice versa.

Neck or Brain Stents

A stent is a long hollow tube implanted into the body to prevent arteries from narrowing. It is often made of a metal mesh that will interfere with the magnetic waves of transcranial magnetic stimulation. While the therapy can be safe if the stent is inserted in the lower part of the body, it can be dangerous if the stent is in the neck or brain area.

Metal Plates

Metal plates are like internal splints that hold pieces of broken bone together. They can be inserted anywhere in the body and can even be placed in the head if the skull is cracked. TMS will be interrupted by a metal plate.

Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants are devices inserted into the ear to improve hearing. Many of them contain metal or magnets that can interfere with TMS treatment.

Permanent Piercings

If you have a piercing that’s filled with a metal ring or stud, it’s advisable to take it out before TMS therapy to allow the magnetic waves to work their magic. If you are in a situation where a piercing is hard or impossible to remove, magnetic brain stimulation for depression may not be for you.

How Much Is TMS Therapy?

Just how much does electromagnetic brain stimulation cost? It typically ranges from $60 to $100 a treatment. Patients will usually see significant benefits after thirty-six treatments that take place over a nine-week period, meaning one round of treatment can be as much as $3600.

Is TMS Therapy Covered by Medicare?

Fortunately, there are many insurance companies that will cover TMS treatment including Cigna, Aetna, Blue Shield of California, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Anthem Blue. Medicare began covering TMS in 2013.

Is TMS Right For You?

TMS Therapy

Try TMS Therapy at Essence Healthcare

TMS can be helpful in treating a variety of conditions. A good provider will offer effective therapy and combine it with other types of treatment as needed. Essence Healthcare is highly recommended as a TMS provider.

Essence is a multidisciplinary clinic that offers a variety of services including physiotherapy, counseling, mental health therapy, chiropractic services, and more. We provide personalized treatments and excellent clinical care. Patients are treated in a friendly and comfortable environment.

Essence Healthcare Healing Opportunities

Our treatments include TMS, which is delivered with state-of-the-art equipment. We monitor you throughout treatment and provide recommendations for optimal wellness as needed. We are committed to helping our clients experience the ultimate quality of life.

Mental health issues are not easy to deal with. They can get in the way of your enjoyment of life, and they can even affect your ability to carry out the most basic tasks. Don’t let them rob you of another day.

Contact Essence Healthcare to find out about our innovative approach to treatment. We will help you move onto a path for happier, healthier living.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.