About Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

NeuroStar TMS Therapy® is a new treatment cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients suffering from depression who have not achieved satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant treatment. TMS stands for "transcranial magnetic stimulation".

TMS Therapy is a treatment that can be performed in a psychiatrist's office, under his or her supervision, using a medical device called the NeuroStar TMS Therapy system.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy® is:

  • Non-invasive, meaning that it does not involve surgery. It does not require any anesthesia or sedation, as the patient remains awake and alert during the treatment
  • Non-systemic, meaning that it is not taken by mouth and does not circulate in the blood stream throughout the body.

The typical initial treatment course consists of 5 treatments per week over a 4-6 week period, for an average of 20-30 total treatments. Each treatment session lasts approximately 40 minutes.

How Does TMS Work?

Through a treatment coil, the NeuroStar TMS Therapy system generates highly concentrated, magnetic fields which turn on and off very rapidly. These magnetic fields are the same type and strength as those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

The treatment coil is applied to the head above the left prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is involved with mood regulation, and therefore is the location where the magnetic fields are focused. These magnetic fields do not directly affect the whole brain; they only reach about 2-3 centimeters into the brain directly beneath the treatment coil.

As these magnetic fields move into the brain, they produce very small electrical currents. These electrical currents activate cells within the brain which are thought to release neurotransmitters, serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine to treat depression.

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

Since the 1980s, transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used to study the nerve fibers that carry information about movements from the brain to the spinal cord and onto the muscles. In the late 1990s physicians began to explore the therapeutic potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of a variety of diseases, with depression being the most thoroughly studied to date. Since then, more than 20 randomized, controlled trials studying transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment for depression have been published by investigators throughout the world.

NeuroStar TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) Therapy was FDA-cleared in October 2008 for patients suffering from depression who have not achieved satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medications.

Using pulsed magnetic fields, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy stimulates the part of the brain thought to be involved with mood regulation. TMS Therapy is a short outpatient procedure, performed in your psychiatrist’s office under their supervision while you remain awake and alert. The typical initial course of treatment is about 37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.

About NeuroStar TMS Therapy

The NeuroStar TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) Therapy system, developed by Neuronetics, is the first and only non-systemic and non-invasive depression treatment cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients who have not benefited from prior antidepressant treatment.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy is:

  • Non-invasive, meaning that it does not involve surgery. It does not require any anesthesia or sedation, as the patient remains awake and alert during the treatment.
  • Non-systemic, meaning that it is not taken by mouth and does not circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body.