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TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It is the first and only FDA approved treatment for depression that does not require medication or hospitalization.

It works by stimulating the brain non-invasively using an electromagnetic field, similar to those magnetic fields produced by an MRI machine. By laying the device against the head, a magnetic pulse is administered to the part of the brain associated with depression. It is a safe and effective treatment performed in a psychiatrist’s office. Patients remain awake and alert and are able to resume their daily activities at the end of the session.

The duration of each session and the number of sessions vary depending on what diagnosis is being treated.

In clinical trials for depression, for example, patients received TMS Therapy 5 times per week for 4-6 weeks. Session can last as little as 19 minutes.

Unlike medication, TMS does not travel through the bloodstream. Therefore it does not cause unwanted side effects such as nausea, weight gain, sedation, upset stomach, sexual dysfunction, etc. The most common side effect associated with TMS treatment is scalp discomfort during treatment sessions — generally mild to moderate and is treated by adjusting the device that administers the TMS. If necessary, this discomfort can be treated with an over-the-counter analgesic.  It usually dissipates after a few sessions and patients are able to relax and feel at ease fairly quickly. Notably, less than 5% of patients treated with TMS Therapy discontinued treatment due to side effects.

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