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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for depression

  • A non-drug treatment with minimal side effects

    If you have depression and medicine and psychotherapy aren't helping, you may want to consider transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

    What is TMS?

    TMS is a treatment for people experiencing major depression to help the brain regulate mood.

    During each session, brief magnetic pulses stimulate underactive areas of the brain.

    Clinical studies showed that one in two patients who had TMS had significant improvement in depression symptoms, and one in three were symptom free. It is considered a safe treatment.

    What to expect during TMS treatment

    TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) is an outpatient service that lasts about 45 minutes per session. It is administered five days a week for up to six weeks.

    Prior to the treatment, you will be scheduled for a consultation with a mental health care provider to determine whether TMS is right for you.

    TMS therapy for depression - what to expect

    During each TMS treatment:

    • You sit comfortably in the treatment chair and remain alert.
    • The mental health care provider will place a small curved device containing a magnetic coil on your scalp near your forehead.
    • You will receive brief magnetic stimulation through the device on your scalp.
      • You will hear "clicking" sounds.
      • You will feel a "tapping" sensation on your forehead.
      • You will be given earplugs to wear.
  • Good to know

    • You may feel discomfort at or near the treatment area. This is often short-lived and usually happens during the first week of treatment only.
    • You will be able to drive yourself to and from treatment sessions, and resume your typical activities following each session.
    • Check with your insurance company to see if they cover TMS.
  • New 24/7 resource

    Mental Health and Addiction Line

    Call 1-866-603-0016 for:

    • help determining the right service for you
    • referrals to services at Allina Health or in the broader community
    • scheduling for Allina Health appointments as appropriate
    • connections to crisis services as needed

    If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

  • Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) For Depression, mh-ah-17358
    Reviewed by: Dylan Airhart, mental health associate, adult psychiatry, Abbott Northwestern Hospital
    First published: 06/13/2016
    Last reviewed: 06/15/2016

  • Contact us

    Call 612-863-6809 to learn more or to make an appointment.

    Find us

    On the Abbott Northwestern Hospital campus

    TMS is delivered in the Radiology Department's outpatient clinic off of the lobby of the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute building.

  • 800 E 28th St
    Minneapolis, MN 55407

    612-863-6809