How can transcranial magnetic stimulation help patients with treatment-resistant depression?
Developed in 1985 and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2008, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technology has been gaining clinical interest as an effective treatment option for patients with treatment-resistant depression. Two-thirds of TMS patients experienced either full remission of their depression symptoms or noticeable improvements.1 TMS is a noninvasive outpatient procedure without serious adverse effects, making it an attractive option for patients who have not found relief from other treatments, including psychopharmacology and psychotherapy.
How TMS Works
TMS uses an alternating current passed through a metal coil placed against the scalp to generate rapidly alternating magnetic fields. These pass through the skull nearly unimpeded and induce electric currents that depolarize neurons in a focal area of the surface cortex.
The magnetic field generated by TMS is comparable to that of a standard magnetic resonance imaging device (MRI), measured at approximately 1.5 to 3 Teslas. However, the TMS field is focal (beneath the coil), whereas the MRI field is large and fills the room housing the MRI device.