TMS Therapy FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy is a non-invasive treatment for depression and other mood disorders using an MRI-strength magnetic pulse to stimulate neurons in the brain.

TMS Therapy uses pulses of magnetic energy, precisely targeted at a critical area of the brain known to be underactive in depression sufferers. This area is called the prefrontal cortex.

By stimulating this local area, neurons in the prefrontal cortex communicate to deeper brain neurons causing a secondary effect on remaining areas of the brain involved in mood. These effects are intended to restore normal function and lift the symptoms of depression.

TMS Therapy is an FDA-cleared proven no drug treatment for depression that is now available throughout the U.S. TMS Therapy is specifically for patients with depression who have not benefited from initial antidepressant medication.

Many people with major depression who were treated with TMS Therapy experienced significant benefits. In clinical trials, including a trial of patients receiving the new depression treatment with TMS as part of their medical care, after six weeks of treatment, 1 in 2 patients improved significantly, and 1 in 3 patients was completely free of depression symptoms.16

Efficacy was established in a controlled clinical trial comparing active treatment with TMS Therapy to an inactive device. Patients treated with active TMS Therapy received an average reduction in their depression symptom score of 22.1% compared to a 9% average reduction in patients receiving inactive treatment.17

TMS Therapy is FDA-cleared for patients with major depressive disorder who have not received satisfactory results from prior antidepressant medications. We have treated many patients suffering from mood disorders other than depression and have had success. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with depression and/or has not achieved satisfactory improvement from medications, then TMS Therapy may be able to help.

TMS Therapy is a safe and well-tolerated treatment with very few limitations. However, not all patients are appropriate candidates.

TMS Therapy may not be used for patients with implanted metallic devices or non-removable metallic objects in or around the head – this excludes dental fillings.

There may be other considerations that could prevent you from receiving TMS Therapy that your doctor will need to determine.

To find out if TMS Therapy is right for you, contact our office to set up a Free TMS Discovery & Screening Appointment today.

Because each person’s treatment needs are different and treatment is individualized, the length of a TMS Therapy course can vary. A usual course of treatment for depression involves ~20 minutes per session, five days a week for 4 to 6 weeks, although this can differ on a person’s response. You will receive a personalized treatment plan prior to starting TMS Therapy, and your progress will be monitored throughout the entire course of treatment.

TMS Therapy is recommended for 4 to 6 weeks based on how quickly a patient’s mood improves and remains stable. Not uncommonly, patients begin to experience results within the first two weeks.

TMS Therapy treatments are performed five days a week, and each treatment lasts between 20-45 minutes. Because each treatment plan is individualized, treatment times can vary based on what protocol is prescribed and the patient’s unique situation. At the beginning, each appointment is scheduled for 1 hour, so there is adequate time to treat comfortably. This may change over the treatment course if less time is needed.

TMS Therapy is widely covered at this time; however some insurance companies have issued coverage policies, and many are covering the treatments, by exception, on a case-by-case basis. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of the initial consultation with a TMS Therapy doctor to see if this treatment is right for you.

We encourage you to consult with your insurance company regarding their willingness to cover TMS Therapy for you. To help with this process, we have a team devoted to providing general support regarding the reimbursement process. Learn more about Nashville Neurocare’s Insurance options.


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 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.

During treatment, patients recline comfortably and are awake and alert throughout the TMS Therapy session. No anesthesia or sedation is needed. Treatment involves placement of the magnetic coil against the patient’s head. Patients will hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping sensation on their head during treatment.

Each TMS Therapy session takes ~20 minutes to complete and is conducted right in the doctor’s office, five days a week, for approximately four to six weeks. After treatment each day, patients can immediately return to normal activities.

The most common side effect associated with TMS Therapy is pain or discomfort during treatment at or near the treatment area. This pain or discomfort is generally mild to moderate and typically diminishes after the first week of treatment.

In clinical trials, less than 5% of patients discontinued TMS treatment due to side effects. TMS treatment also showed no negative effects on thinking or memory.

Because TMS Therapy acts directly on the prefrontal cortex, it lacks the systemic side effects experienced with antidepressant medication.

There is a rare risk of seizure associated with TMS Therapy. The risk of seizure in general clinical use is 1 in 30,000 treatments.

Antidepressant medications have numerous side effects such as weight gain, sexual side effects, gastrointestinal distress, insomnia, fatigue, and others. Unlike medications, TMS Therapy is non-systemic and does not enter the bloodstream, meaning there are little to no side effects.

Content References: 16. Neuronetics, Inc. Data on file; 17. Demitrack MA, Thase, ME. (2009).