The NeuroStar TMS therapy system is the first and only TMS therapy device approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression. TMS therapy stimulates selected areas in the brain non-invasively using pulsating electromagnetic fields similar to those produced by an MRI. TMS therapy does not involve the use of anesthesia or sedation. Patients remain awake and alert during the treatment.
TMS therapy uses a series of short magnetic field pulsations to activate areas of the brain involved in mood regulation. Increased cellular activity in these areas is thought to release neurotransmitters at junctions between neurons (brain cells). This increase in neurotransmitters is thought to alleviate symptoms of depression.
TMS therapy only effects targeted areas in the brain. The treatment therefore does not have systemic effects. It does not have the troubling side effects that often result from medications such as weight gain, fatigue or drowsiness, or sexual dysfunction. The most frequent side effects are transient scalp pain and headaches which occur less frequently after the first week of treatment.
TMS therapy appears to be quite safe. There is no evidence that TMS therapy induces tumors or memory loss. TMS therapy carries no greater risk of seizures than treatment with oral antidepressants. The amount of magnetic field exposure for a full course of TMS therapy is only a small fraction of one brain scan with an MRI.
The typical course of treatment is 37 minutes five days a week over a four to six week period. The exact length of treatment will be based on clinical judgment after discussion between the patient and the physician.
In a six month follow-up study most patients maintained benefit, some with maintenance therapy when needed.
In clinical trials TMS therapy was safely administered both with and without other antidepressant medications.
TMS can be effective in treatment resistant depression. In patients who have failed one full course of treatment with antidepressant medication TMS therapy often gave positive results. 1 in 2 patients achieved significant symptom reduction, and 1 in 3 experienced symptom remission.