What Is TMS Used For?

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When psychotherapy and antidepressants are not effectively treating your depression, it’s hard not to feel discouraged. Luckily, there is another treatment option available. Transcranial magnet stimulation, commonly referred to as TMS, works by stimulating the sections of the brain that serve to regulate mood. Dr. Melissa Lopez-Larson and Associates in Park City, UT, offer this alternative treatment for depression and other psychological disorders.

What Is TMS Used For?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a simple, non-invasive treatment that involves using magnetic fields to awaken nerve cells in the brain. Then, specific areas of the brain are selected that control depression, anxiety, and mood. Transcranial magnetic stimulation doesn’t require surgery or electrode implantation like deep brain stimulation or vagus nerve stimulation, and no anesthesia is needed. It is a holistic and alternative method to treating a variety of mood and psychiatric disorders.


This treatment can provide a long-term cure for symptoms of depression. Patients suffering from depression noticed alleviation of symptoms following a course of TMS treatment. If you receive this treatment for depression, you may see an improvement in your mood, renewed interest in your hobbies, and increased energy. Additionally, you may feel more motivated to spend time with family and friends.

Sleep Quality

This treatment is also beneficial for those looking to improve the quality of their sleep. Many individuals find that transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment helps them fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. The improved rest they are getting allows them to awaken feeling more energized and alert.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation stimulates the parts of your brain associated with anxiety, making it a solid choice for patients seeking to improve anxiety symptoms. Patients who have received transcranial magnetic stimulation have reported improvement or eradication of symptoms such as nervousness, sense of impending doom, rapid breathing, difficulty concentrating, and tremours.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Patients who have not found improvement from traditional obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment methods may find that transcranial magnetic stimulation is the answer to their medical issue. Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients.

Some patients experience permanent improvement and others experience short-term relief. Typically, patients who undergo longer treatment courses will experience more significant improvements, though results vary among individuals.

How Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a medication and surgery-free method of treating anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric and neurological disorders. Most patients will benefit from a course of non-invasive treatments versus a stand-alone treatment. A magnetic coil shaped like a figure-eight is placed against the patient’s scalp. The magnetic field from the coil stimulates the portions of the patient’s brain that impacts mood, depression, and anxiety.

The stimulated parts of the brain stimulate other nearby areas, creating an increase in brain neuron activity across much of the patient’s brain. However, similar to most things involving the brain, TMS’s exact mechanism is not entirely understood. Despite this fact, the FDA approved transcranial magnetic stimulation for use in treatment-resistant depression since 2013. It is also FDA approved for anxiety treatment.

Who Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Right For?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is an excellent choice for people who have not experienced relief from their mood or psychiatric disorder using other mental health solutions. For example, individuals who are not experiencing a complete cessation of their depression despite using multiple medications may find using transcranial magnetic stimulation eases their symptoms.

In addition, individuals who have anxiety and depression and neither medication nor therapy has helped them are also good candidates. Some individuals may find that taking pharmaceuticals is not an option because of side effects; TMS has significantly lower side effects than medications, making it a relatively low-risk treatment option. Others may choose to omit medicines if they are breastfeeding or prefer a more holistic style of treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Effective on All Types of Depression?

Studies have shown this treatment to be an effective method of addressing symptoms of all types of depression. In addition, transcranial magnetic stimulation is particularly effective on medication-resistant depression.

Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Painful?

No, treatment is not painful. In fact, during your TMS treatment, you will not need to be anesthetized or sedated. During your session, at most, you may feel a sensation of light tapping on the skin under the coil. Additionally, some individuals may experience a slight headache following their treatment session.

 Am I Eligible for Treatment?

To determine if you are a good candidate for TMS therapy, you will meet with our psychiatrist to decide if sessions will benefit you. Our office most frequently uses transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. However, we also use this treatment to help patients dealing with pain and neurological issues, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

What Would Make Me Ineligible for Treatment?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation would not be a wise option for an individual with a prior history of seizures or a seizure disorder. In addition, any metal fragments or plates in the skull would also disqualify a patient from receiving this treatment, as metal would interact poorly with the magnetic coil used to stimulate the brain. Also, individuals with deep brain stimulators or cochlear implants are not suited for this type of therapy.

Currently, the FDA has not approved transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment method for children under 16. Due to this, our office will not perform treatment on anyone under 16 until it has FDA approval. However, we anticipate the FDA approving this treatment for all ages in the future.

What Should I Expect During My Session?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation sessions are low-stress and require no preparation or recovery time; you will even be able to drive yourself to and from your treatments. Before starting your session, you will be asked to remove any accessories or jewelry that the magnets will impact. You will also be given earplugs to muffle the clicking sound the machine emits during the treatment.

After the treatment has begun, you will feel a sensation similar to a pencil gently tapping on your head, and you will hear the soft clicking of the machine. Depending on your program, the session could last from five to 45 minutes, during which you will be reclining in a comfortable seat. There will be no discomfort during your session. Following the treatment, you will be able to return to normal activities immediately.

Who Will be Performing the Treatment?

A trained medical technician will perform your transcranial magnetic stimulation session. They will remain with you throughout the whole session and be available to answer any questions you have and ensure you are comfortable.

How Often Will I Have Sessions?

The treatment schedule will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, it is common for many patients to come in for transcranial magnetic stimulation treatments four or five days a week.

How Soon Will I Notice A Difference?

Each patient is unique, but it is not unusual for a patient to notice lessening feelings of depression and an improvement in mood during the first week of treatment. The quick results provided by transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment are another reason it is preferable to medication for many individuals. Pharmaceuticals can take anywhere from six to eight weeks to impact mood and cognitive function.

Will Treatments Hurt My Memory?

Unlike some forms of treatment, transcranial magnetic stimulation will not impair your ability to focus or harm your memory. It is commonly used off-book to help patients with severe attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder who are not responding well to medicine.

Will My Insurance Cover Treatments?

Some plans will cover these treatments, but it will largely depend on your medical history. For example, individuals who have unsuccessfully tried four or more antidepressants or been unable to use antidepressants due to side effects may be able to bill their insurer for their treatments.

Additionally, patients on medicare may have their treatments covered if they have tried both psychotherapy and antidepressants unsuccessfully. Always make sure to check with your insurer before beginning any new medical treatment.

Change Your Life Through TMS Therapy

If you’re ready to try a revolutionary treatment to improve your mental health and quality of life, consider transcranial magnetic stimulation. Don’t spend another day wondering what else you can try to improve your depression and anxiety. Instead, call Dr. Melissa Lopez-Larson and Associates in Park City, UT, and make an appointment to discuss treatment options today!

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