TMS is FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression, OCD and migraines. It is a non-invasive modality that can be completed during an office visit.

When people seek treatment for a mental health condition, they often receive medication, therapy or a combination of the two. While these usual treatment methods are beneficial for many people, some find that they do not experience adequate symptom relief with therapy and/or medication. One add-on treatment modality that may be helpful is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

TMS is a non-invasive treatment method. It uses a device that is placed against the head to deliver electromagnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain. For people seeking TMS treatment for mental health conditions, the device will be used to stimulate areas of the brain responsible for mood. 

When people receive TMS therapy, they are seated in a chair while a device with a large wire coil is placed near the scalp. The coil produces electromagnetic pulses, which target areas of the brain believed to be linked to mental health conditions. 

Who Can Benefit?

Numerous studies have been conducted with TMS, revealing that this modality shows promise for treating a variety of conditions, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), PTSD, Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, anxiety and bipolar disorder. 

While there are numerous potential benefits of TMS, it is FDA-approved for only the following conditions:

  • Major depressive disorder: Several TMS devices are FDA approved for treating depression in patients who do not respond adequately to antidepressant medications. This means that TMS is not used as a first-line treatment for depression. Instead, a person becomes eligible for TMS when depression does not improve significantly with medications. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: The FDA has approved TMS as an add-on treatment for OCD. This means it is used alongside other treatment modalities, such as medication and therapy. 
  • Migraine headaches: Some people benefit from TMS not for mental health conditions but for the treatment of migraine headaches. TMS devices are FDA approved for treating migraine with aura. 

What To Expect 

Before you receive TMS treatment, you will undergo the intake process. A doctor will ask about the history of your symptoms to determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for TMS services. If you’re seeking TMS services for depression, the doctor will ask about what medications you’ve taken and whether they’ve been successful. A doctor will also ensure you do not have any electrical or magnetic implants, as TMS can be dangerous if you have an implant of this type.

If you’re cleared for TMS treatment, you will discuss a treatment schedule with your provider. A common treatment regimen involves receiving TMS every weekday for a period of six weeks, for a total of 30 treatments. You may receive fewer treatments depending on your specific needs. 

During TMS sessions, you’ll find that the procedure is relatively simple. There is no need for anesthesia, and TMS is entirely non-invasive. You’ll simply need to remove glasses and metallic jewelry. Then, you’ll sit in a chair while a device is applied to your scalp to deliver repeated electromagnetic pulses to the brain. You’ll wear earplugs during the procedure to protect your hearing. You can expect a TMS session to last up to thirty minutes, but it may be as short as a few minutes. Afterward, you’ll be free to drive and carry on with your usual activities. 

Common FAQs About TMS Treatment

Is TMS covered by insurance?

Insurance covers procedures and treatments that are medically necessary. In the case of treatment-resistant depression or OCD, TMS may be medically necessary, meaning insurance will cover it. Consult with your individual insurance provider to determine whether TMS will be covered. 

What is the success rate of TMS?

Numerous studies have explored the success rate of TMS. The effectiveness of the procedure depends on the specific TMS device used, as well as the type of population being studied (e.g., males vs. females). A review of multiple studies found that around 25% of people have a positive response to TMS treatment. 

Are there any side effects of TMS?

TMS side effects are typically mild and short-lasting. Common side effects include headache, neck pain and ringing in the ears. While rare, some people may experience seizures. This side effect is more common in people with epilepsy, but the risk is less than 3% per session. Among those without epilepsy, the risk of experiencing a seizure with TMS is under 0.01%. 

Can depression come back after TMS?

Studies have shown that TMS is a durable treatment modality. A year after induction into TMS treatment, half of patients show a sustained response. That being said, this means that half of people will experience a return of depression symptoms. Maintenance sessions can make the effects of TMS treatment more sustainable. Maintenance TMS occurs when people receive follow-up sessions of TMS after a successful course of treatment. 

Interested In TMS In Denver, CO?

TMS is available at Denver Mental Health and Counseling by The Recovery Village as part of our full continuum of care, and can be added on to intensive outpatient or outpatient care. Give us a call today if you have questions about  Denver TMS services.

Editor – Abby Doty
Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has seven years of experience working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

Mann, Sukhmanjeet Kaur & Malhi, Narpinder K. “Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.” National Library of Medicine, January 2022. Accessed October 15, 2022.

Cohen, Samantha L., et al. “A visual and narrative timeline of US FD[…]ation (TMS) devices.” Brain Stimulation, January–February 2022. Accessed October 15, 2022.

Cleveland Clinic. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).” August 29, 2022. Accessed October 15, 2022.

Senova, Suhan, et al. “Durability of antidepressant response to[…]ew and meta-analysis.” Brain Stimulation, January–February 2019. Accessed October 15, 2022.

Sehatzadeh, Shayan, et al. “Unilateral and bilateral repetitive tran[…]ials over 2 decades.” Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, May 2019. Accessed October 15, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

Denver Mental Health Counseling by The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.