Updated: Oct 14
TMS: An FDA Approved Treatment Resistant Depression Solution that’s Covered by Insurance
In the United States alone, an estimated 16 million people suffer from depression. That’s more than 6 percent of the population. Unfortunately, cases of treatment-resistant depression continue to rise and have reached epidemic levels. Treatment options for depression can be limited for patients who have not responded well to traditional antidepressants. For example, most medications work by targeting specific chemical pathways in the brain; and as a result, they come with side effects that can be as bad as the symptoms they’re trying to treat in the first place. Additionally, many people struggle to find an effective treatment due to high costs or lack of access to care. This is where transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) comes in as a drug-free treatment for treatment resistant depression.
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-approved treatment that uses electromagnetic pulses to target the area of the brain believed to cause depression. Research supporting TMS shows that stimulating a specific area of the prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain responsible for mood, decision-making, and emotions — can help reduce symptoms of depression. TMS is a non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. Treatment sessions last about 30 minutes and typically take place 2–3 times per week. Sessions are painless and patients are awake and aware of their surroundings during treatment. No anesthesia is required.
How Does TMS Help People With Depression?
TMS works by stimulating the nerve cells in a specific area of the brain that plays a key role in mood regulation. Nerve cells communicate by sending electrical impulses to one another. TMS uses a powerful magnetic field to create a small electric current in the brain, which temporarily boosts the ability of these cells to communicate with one another. Researchers believe that boosting communication between these cells in strategic areas of the brain can help relieve symptoms of depression.
What are the Symptoms of Treatment-Resistant Depression?
There are many symptoms of depression, and each individual will have a unique experience. However, many patients experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Feeling sad most of the time
Feeling no pleasure or satisfaction from activities that would normally give you joy
Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Experiencing a change in your appetite
Having trouble concentrating
Having thoughts of suicide
Experiencing a change in your energy level
Experiencing a change in your mood
Experiencing a change in your relationships with others
Having physical pain or discomfort (e.g., headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, etc.)
Persistence of the above symptoms despite taking antidepressants
Who Can Benefit From TMS?
To qualify as a candidate for TMS, patients must be diagnosed with moderate to severe depression who haven’t responded to at least one antidepressant. TMS has also been found to be effective as a treatment for anxiety, trauma and OCD – however, these are off-label uses for TMS and are usually not covered by insurance. For patients with stubborn depression that has resisted traditional antidepressants, TMS may be a valuable addition to their mental health treatment plan.
Revive Therapeutic Services Can Help
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it’s important to seek help. Our team of mental health professionals would be happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your treatment options. Reach out! We’re here to help.