BHealthy Blog

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, an Innovative Treatment for Depression

By Dr. Siva Koppolu, psychiatrist at Baptist Health Behavioral Clinic-North Little Rock

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an innovative and effective non-invasive treatment for people suffering from major depression who have responded poorly to antidepressant medications. TMS is an FDA-approved treatment available by prescription only and delivered under the supervision of a board-certified psychiatrist, 
Dr. Siva Koppolu at Baptist Health Behavioral Clinic-North Little Rock.

What is TMS and How Does it Work?

TMS targets the prefrontal cortex, a vital area of the brain that controls mood. This area is assumed to be underactive when someone is suffering from major depression. Using electric current field pulses to stimulate that area, TMS may restore appropriate function and reduce the symptoms of depression.

Who qualifies for TMS?

People who qualify for TMS are those who have not responded well to antidepressant medications. It is also an option for those who cannot tolerate the side effects of antidepressant medications or those who are seeking an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Are there any side effects?

One of the most significant benefits of TMS treatment is the lack of side effects typically experienced with antidepressant medications. The most common side effect of TMS is mild scalp or a slight headache, which typically goes away after the sessions or after the first session.

Each TMS treatment takes less than 45 minutes and is conducted in a doctor’s office five days a week for approximately four to six weeks. During treatment, the person is awake and alert and can speak with the doctor or clinician at any time. After a TMS treatment, people can return to usual activities.

During TMS, a magnetic coil device is placed on the head while the patient sits in a comfortable treatment chair. The patient may hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping sensation. However, the treatment is typically well-tolerated and not painful.

Clinical trials have proved the effectiveness of TMS in treating patients with major depression. In fact, one out of two patients improved significantly, and one out of three patients was free of depression symptoms completely.

Is TMS covered by insurance?

TMS is covered by some insurance plans, and many people find it to be a valuable alternative to traditional antidepressant medications. If you or a loved one is struggling with major depression, contact Dr. Siva Koppolu with Baptist Health Behavioral Clinic-North Little Rock to see if TMS may be right for you.