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 30 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 recently FDA-cleared 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. At Sarkis Family Psychiatry, a typical course of treatment is about 50 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.

About NeuroStar TMS Therapy

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

TMS is:

  • FDA Approved
  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Side Effect free
  • Medication Free
  • 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.

How Does TMS Therapy Work?

NeuroStar TMS Therapy® is a short outpatient procedure performed in a psychiatrist’s office. The treating clinician uses a treatment coil to send a pulsed magnetic field, similar in type and strength to magnetic fields produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, to the part of your brain thought to control mood.

TMS Therapy® is a highly targeted treatment reaching 2-3 centimeters into the brain, directly beneath the treatment coil. The nature of the magnetic field allows it to pass through a patient’s hair, skin and skull and into the mood-regulating area without being distorted in any way. This method allows for precise, targeted stimulation, minimizing the stimulation of brain tissue not involved in mood.

These magnetic 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).


1. Schutter, D. (2009). “Antidepressant efficacy of high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in double-blind sham-controlled designs: a meta-analysis.” Psychological Medicine 39: 65-75.

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