Tanscranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy

Dr. Lance Foster with Northwest Arkansas Psychiatry is offering a new treatment for depression, Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, as an alternative to medications. According to a 2012 study, approximately 58% of patients with treatment-resistant Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) respond positively to TMS therapy. 

What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive, non-drug therapy that can help people who experience depression. It’s an alternative to medication for people who have found antidepressants unsuccessful. TMS is approved by the FDA specifically for people who don’t respond to antidepressant medication. 

This therapy is also being studied for a number of other mental health issues, including Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, obssessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even autism.

“With TMS, we are changing how the brain circuits are arranged and how they communicate with each other,” says Dr. Foster. “We know that the brain is a changeable organ,” he continues. “Every time people learn something new, there are physical changes in the brain structure. TMS allows us to make the changes more quickly.” 

How does it work?

During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against the scalp near the forehead. The electromagnet painlessly delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the limbic system, a region of the brain involved in mood control and depression. This pulse activates regions of the brain that have decreased activity in people with depression. TMS lets the brain practice actions that are much like having positive thoughts. Neurons in the brain release neurotransmitters just as they do when we have positive experiences. 

Antidepressant medications can lead to side effects. TMS is non-invasive and involves no drugs. The side effects are minimal, usually no more than a temporary headache, and often are completely absent.

TMS therapy in Northwest Arkansas

TMS involves a series of sessions lasting less than one hour. It takes place in the office and patients can drive home afterwards — or back to work or school. Earplugs are provided for patients who don’t care for the noise, but patients can chat or listen to music instead.

  • Safe and effective
  • Minimal side effects
  • Non-invasive
  • No Anesthesia
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Covered by most insurance providers, including Medicare.

Patients with metal near their heads that cannot be removed — pacemakers, metallic implants in ears or eyes, or tattoos with metallic ink, for example — are not good candidates for TMS.

Patients may continue psychotherapy while using TMS for depression. Learn more about TMS Therapy for depression at www.magstim.com/patients.

Talk with your Northwest Arkansas Psychiatry doctor about TMS.