Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS Therapy)

Rush has performed more transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS therapy) treatments than any other health system in the Chicago area.

Rush has performed more transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS therapy) treatments than any other health system in the Chicago area.

Rush has performed more transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS therapy) treatments than any other health system in the Chicago area.

TMS therapy (transcranial magnetic stimulation) can offer relief from depression — even if antidepressants and therapy haven't worked. TMS therapy uses magnetic fields to increase activity in the part of your brain that regulates your mood.

Advantages of TMS Therapy

TMS has many advantages:

  • It's effective — most people who have it experience some relief
  • It's noninvasive — you won't have anything inserted in you
  • It doesn't require anesthesia or sedation, so you'll remain awake
  • It's covered by most major insurance plans, including Medicare
  • It has fewer side effects than antidepressants

What to Expect During TMS Therapy

TMS sessions at Rush last about 40 minutes. Most people have five sessions a week for four to six weeks before they start feeling better. The number of treatments you need will depend on how soon you start feeling better.

During your session, you'll sit in a reclined chair. A technician will place a small device on the left side of your forehead. The device will generate magnetic fields that improve your brain's functioning.

Because the device contains a strong magnet, you won't be able to bring any metal objects into your session.

Side Effects of TMS Therapy

Common side effects include headache and scalp discomfort. But these side effects are usually very mild. There is a very small risk of seizures.

TMS Therapy Success Rate

Among patients who have TMS therapy at Rush:

  • 50% feel significantly better
  • 30% get moderate relief
  • 20% experience no change

The relief typically lasts about a year. After a year, if symptoms return, you may want to come in for another round of TMS therapy.

Rush Excellence in TMS Therapy

  • Leaders in the field: Rush was part of the clinical trial that led to FDA approval of TMS therapy to treat depression.
  • The most experienced TMS therapy experts in Chicago: Providers at Rush have performed several thousand TMS treatments — more than any other team in Chicago. This experience has sharpened their understanding of when TMS therapy is likely to help (and when it's not).
  • Experts in treatment-resistant depression: Psychiatrists and psychologists at Rush specialize in depression that doesn't respond to psychotherapy and antidepressants. Based on your specific history and symptoms, they can help determine the best next steps. This may include TMS therapy or other treatments for treatment-resistant depression, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or esketamine (Spravato), a nasal spray.