Prevea Health

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for depression


When antidepressant medications are not enough to treat major depression.

TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve the symptoms of depression. TMS treatment is for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults who have failed to find relief from antidepressant medication.

How it works

TMS therapy involves the use of short pulses of magnetic energy to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. These magnetic pulses are delivered to the area in the brain that researchers believe is responsible for emotional judgment and mood regulation.

The rapid magnetic pulses created by the TMS system pass through the skull and generate electrical current in the brain directly under the treatment coil. These electric currents cause neurons to fire and stimulate surrounding brain cells.

What to expect

TMS therapy is a treatment that occurs in your doctor’s office five days a week for six weeks. Your physician will determine the ideal stimulation intensity (dosage) and treatment protocol.

To determine the proper dosage, your physician will perform a mapping called a motor threshold assessment. During this process an electromagnetic coil will be placed against a part of your head called the motor cortex. A series of single pulses at different power levels will be delivered in order to find the specific intensity (dosage); this will cause your thumb to twitch. The physician will make calculations based on the number of thumb twitches and the intensity of the pulse to determine your dosage.

During treatment, the coil will be placed on the specific treatment location determined during the motor threshold assessment. You will hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping sensation on your head when the magnetic pulses are delivered. Many patients watch television or read during treatment. Each treatment will last between 3 and 37.5 minutes, depending on the clinical protocol prescribed by your physician.

TMS is a safe and well-tolerated treatment with few known side effects. Clinical studies have shown that most common side effects are mild to moderate scalp discomfort and mild headaches, both of which are short term. Normal activities can typically be resumed immediately after treatment.

Insurance coverage

TMS is covered by most insurance providers, including Medicare. Prior authorization is typically required for insurance coverage – Prevea can help manage this process. Typically, treatment with antidepressant medications and psychotherapy is needed before insurance with authorize TMS therapy.


TMS therapy devices have been FDA cleared for the treatment of major depressive disorder since 2008 and is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, The National Institute for Health Care Excellence and The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

To schedule an appointment with Prevea Behavioral Care, call (920) 272-1200.

Additional resources

What is TMS (abridged)
Patient Testimonial (Rod)

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