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What is TMS?

What is TMS?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is the latest important innovation in psychiatric care and though it is not for everyone, it will hopefully, open a door for the future that will hearten many who are now suffering with depression.

TMS is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

The NeuroStar TMS Therapy system is a non-invasive, non-drug medical device cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. NeuroStar TMS Therapy is a 37-minute outpatient procedure that is performed under the supervision of a psychiatrist.  It does not require anesthesia or sedation, and patients remain awake and alert during the procedure.  The treatment is administered daily for 4-6 weeks.

How does it work?

Is it safe?  

Side Effects List

Is TMS Covered by Insurance?

How does it work?

magnetic field pulses of NeuroStar TMS TherapyTMS Therapy involves the use of very short pulses of magnetic energy to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. First used in 1985, TMS has been used by researchers to probe the brain’s functions and get information. Neuronetics® was not the first to relate this technology to antidepressant effect but it was the company that led the research to acquired FDA approval. Subsequently they adapted their device for greater comfort and efficacy in the treatment of depression. 

During the therapy session, you are wide-awake in a comfortable chair.  A small curved device, about the size of a cupped hand rests lightly on your head. The pulses of magnetic energy produced are aimed by the clinician at the area in the brain (the Limbic System structure) thought to control mood.  This structure is accessed (non-invasively from the outside of the brain) through the left prefrontal cortex. The unique nature of the magnetic fields allows them to pass through hair, skin and skull harmlessly and into the cortex without being distorted in any way.  As treatment continues you will feel a sensation like a slight pulses or tapping as the magnetic field does its work. This method allows for targeted stimulation, minimizing the stimulation of brain tissue not involved in mood. These magnetic field pulses of NeuroStar TMS Therapy® are the same strength as those used in magnetic resonance TMS - These pulses produce very small electrical currentsimaging (MRI) machines.

These pulses produce very small electrical currents. The amount of electricity created in the brain is very small and cannot be felt by a patient. These small electric currents can cause the neurons (brain cells) to fire or become active and lead to the release of neurotransmitters (the brain’s chemical messengers) that are helpful to neuronal communication and brain functioning.

Is it safe?  

Clinical trials have proven the safety of NeuroStar TMS Therapy® in treating depressed patients who've had an inadequate response to prior antidepressant medications.

TMS - is it safeTreatment with NeuroStar TMS Therapy caused few side effects and was generally well tolerated by patients. The most common side effects reported during clinical trials were headache and scalp pain or discomfort — generally mild to moderate and occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment.

Fewer than 5% of patients discontinued treatment with NeuroStar TMS Therapy due to adverse events.

TMS is poised to revolutionize the treatment of MDD in a manner analogous to the way SSRIs medications transformed pharmacotherapy for MDD in the late 1980’s.  The SSRIs rose to prominence because they were safer, more tolerable, and had more favorable side effects profiles than the TCAs and the MAOIs.  In a similar manner, TMS has a substantially different and improved safety profile compared to that of any other antidepressant treatment modality currently in use, including pharmacological treatments and device-based treatments like ECT or VNS. This is in addition to its demonstrated efficacy in MDD patients who failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from previous treatment. 

Over 10,000 active treatments were performed across all NeuroStar® clinical trials demonstrating its safety

Side Effects List

Side Effects that Occur with Common Medications or Devices used for Depression

  • Seizures
  • Systemic side effects
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Adverse effects on concentration or memory
  • Device-drug interactions problems
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Migraine or headaches
  • Tremors
  • Sweating

Side Effects with TMS

  • Slight possibility of seizure (1 in 30,000)
  • Occasional headaches that can be treated with over the counter meds

Is it covered by insurance?

TMS THerapyThe number of medical sites offering TMS therapy continues to grow.   It is available in hundreds of medical centers and private offices around the country. Soon this treatment will be even more accessible to patients everywhere.   More than 100,000 TMS treatments have been performed since the FDA Cleared NeuroStar TMS therapy in October of 2008.

CPT codes were approved by the AMA in March 2010 and became effective in January 2011. All major insurance carriers nationwide have approved TMS Therapy® at least once and coverage is becoming more common. 75% of those patients who enroll in NeuroStar Care Connection Program (an advocacy program) who follow through with the full appeal process are being reimbursed for treatment.

Neuronetics, developer of the NeuroStar TMS Therapy® system, will lead the effort to secure health insurance coverage. TMS Therapy® may be covered by your health insurance provider on a case-by-case basis.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy can be paid from your healthcare flexible spending account. You can also work with My Medical Loan to develop a financing plan, if needed. Patients can work with the TMS coordinator to attempt to secure reimbursement.

If you have any questions as to whether it can help you or someone you know feel free to call us for more information: 1-855-TRY-TMSNOW  or  617-879-3011 or email us at

As of August 15, 2014, the following Health Plans now have established TMS coverage policies:

• Fallon Community Healthcare
• Blue Cross of Massachusetts
• Tufts Health Plan
• Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan
• Anthem Blue Cross
• Empire Blue Cross
• United Behavioral Health
• Optum Health Plan
• Medicare

If you are covered under one of these policies and are interested in TMS Therapy, please contact our TMS Coordinator at (617) 879-3011 for more information on what this means for you.

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