TMS Frequently Asked Questions

What is TMS treatment?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a revolutionary depression treatment that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate neural activity in areas of the brain responsible for mood regulation. It is a particularly helpful option for patients with complex, treatment resistant, or refractory depression, is safe and effective, and can be used in conjunction with other treatments or as a stand-alone option.

How does TMS treatment work?

During TMS treatment, magnetic pulses gently pass through the patient’s skull, stimulating neurons in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. fMRI imaging has revealed this area to be underactive in the brains of patients diagnosed with depression, as compared to their typical peers, and this region is known to play a key role in mood and emotional regulation.

Over the course of a patient’s treatment plan, the targeted neurons return to more typical levels of activation, regularizing neurotransmitter production and relieving depression symptoms.

How effective is TMS?

TMS has been proven to be a highly effective treatment option, particularly for patients with chronic, treatment resistant depression who have not found adequate relief from antidepressant medications and psychotherapy.

Recent peer-reviewed studies showed that 70% of patients who underwent TMS experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, with 40% of those patients reporting no depressive symptoms at all once they completed treatment.

Is treatment FDA-approved?

TMS has been FDA approved to treat depression since 2008, and gained clearance for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in 2018. In Europe, TMS is CE-approved to treat these disorders, in addition to several others.

Is TMS treatment safe and well-tolerated?

Most patients report no pain during their TMS treatment. Some patients who are predisposed to migraines report mild headaches during the first week of their treatment program. Headaches typically resolve on their own after the first week, but patients can take a mild, over-the-counter pain reliever if needed.

TMS is a safe treatment, as determined by the FDA in 2008. There is a very low risk of seizures caused by TMS, with 1 in 60,000 TMS treatments inducing a minor seizure on average. Achieve TMS maintains the strictest safety procedures, and due to this diligence, none of our patients has ever sustained a seizure.

What are the side effects of TMS?

One of the biggest benefits of TMS therapy is that it does not cause harmful side effects like antidepressant medications often do. TMS relieves depression symptoms without causing nausea, sleep changes, weight gain, or any of the side effects caused by medications.

What can a patient expect during a TMS treatment?

Each treatment session lasts for about 20 minutes, and patients typically complete 5 sessions per week for 6 weeks. During each session, a patient relaxes comfortably and can read or watch television while treatment is administered. Patients can immediately drive and resume their normal daily activities after each session.

Can TMS be used in conjunction with medications?

TMS can be used in conjunction with antidepressant medications, and does not alter a patient’s existing medication routine. It can also be prescribed as a stand-alone treatment.

Is TMS treatment covered by insurance?

Most major insurers cover TMS treatment, and an updated list of policies that cover treatment can be found at achievetms.com/insurance/.

How is treatment supervised?

At Achieve TMS, each patient works with a licensed physician who determines a custom treatment plan, oversees treatments, and monitors progress. Certified TMS technicians who are trained and evaluated by third party certifiers administer each TMS treatment, and maintain a supportive, therapeutic environment to support each patient’s healing.

Insurance Coverage for TMS

Within California, Oregon, and Alaska, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been approved for use with treatment resistant depression by several insurance providers. Insurances that we’re in network with include Cigna, Anthem Blue Cross, Magellan, Tricare, Blue Shield of CA, Blue Shield Federal Employee, Optum, Aetna, MHN, Healthnet, Beacon, Prime Health Services, Provider Select, Medicare, Providence Preferred, Providence Health Plan, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, First Choice Health Network, First Health National Network, Pacificsource, Moda, OHA (fee for service only), First Health, and Premera Blue Cross. Please call us for a full list of providers. We would be happy to help check with your insurance regarding pre-approval.

*Unfortunately, Medi-cal currently does not cover TMS treatment in California. Please contact your Medi-cal provider to inquire further.

American Psychiatric Association

CTS - Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Partner