Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

NeuroStar TMS Therapy® was developed by Neuronetics for patients who have not benefited from prior antidepressant treatment. It is the first and only non-systemic (doesn’t circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body) and non-invasive (no surgery) depression treatment cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2008.Since the 1980s, TMS has been used to study the nerve fibers that carry information about movements from the brain to the spinal cord and on to the muscles. In the late 1990s, physicians began to explore the therapeutic potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of a variety of diseases with depression being the most thoroughly studied to date. Since then, more than 20 randomized, controlled trials studying TMS as a treatment for depression have been published by investigators throughout the world. These clinical trials have proven the safety of NeuroStar TMS Therapy® in treating patients.

TMS therapy uses short magnetic field pulses to stimulate the part of the brain thought to be involved with mood regulation. It is performed in a psychiatrist’s office under his or her supervision while you remain awake and alert. The typical initial course of treatment is about 37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.


TMS Patient Corner

This Patient Corner features educational programs, videos, and other engaging information and insights from patients who have benefited from NeuroStar TMS Therapy®.

Learn about Martha Rhodes’ positive experiences.

  • Find out why she looked beyond traditional antidepressant medication
  • Learn about the impact of TMS Therapy on her daily life
  • Hear her story and how her life has changed

TMS is cleared by the FDA and recommended by the American Psychiatric Association for the treatment of Depression. TMS may be useful for patient with other conditions, and patients seeking treatment with TMS for off-label applications should discuss the potential risks and benefits with their psychiatrists before making decisions regarding treatment.


In double-blind, controlled studies, TMS has been shown to reduce perception of pain in patients with fibromyalgia in one week of treatments (Short et al, 2011); pain scores decreased by 29% by the end of the second week of treatments. In an effort to sustain this effect, another double-blind and controlled study treated patients for one week, followed by an extended tapering phase of 9 sessions over 6 months (Mhalla et al, 2011). Similar reductions in pain were sustained throughout the 25 weeks of treatment.


A preliminary study of TMS and Generalized anxiety disorder has shown to significantly reduce anxiety in 10 patients (Pallanti and Bernardi, 2009), but GAD remains largely under-researched. Case studies have shown success treating Panic Disorder with TMS, but no large studies have been completed to date.


A sham-controlled pilot study has shown that inhibitory TMS can reduce the effects of tinnitus (Smith, J. et al, 2007). All of the subjects improved temporarily with active TMS, but remained the same with the control.


In a sham-controlled study of Alcoholism and TMS Therapy, ten sessions of TMS were shown to significantly reduce alcohol cravings, with a sustained effect of at least one month following treatment. (Mishra et al, 2010). For cocaine addiction, ten daily sessions of TMS were shown to significantly reduce cravings in 36 subjects (Politi et al, 2008).

Nicotine Dependence

TMS has been shown to decrease cigarette cravings after one session in a controlled study (Li et al, 2013). Participants were given active TMS or a sham TMS treatment; those who received active treatment have significantly less cigarette cravings. In addition, those individuals with a higher nicotine dependence score and more average cigarettes per day experienced a greater reduction in nicotine cravings.


In a sham-controlled study conducted on U.S. Veterans, 10 sessions of TMS therapy were shown to decrease PTSD scores by 25-34%, as opposed to an insignificant reduction with the inactive treatment (Watts et al, 2012). In a controlled, double-blind study of 30 participants, TMS therapy on the right or left side of the prefrontal cortex was shown to significantly reduce PTSD symptoms (Boggio et al, 2009). The right-sided treatment was shown to be more efficacious in the treatment of PTSD and anxiety, but the left-sided treatment also provided a relief from depressive symptoms.

Boggio, P. et al (2009). Noninvasive Brain Stimulation With High-Frequency and Low Intensity Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. August; 71(8): 992–999.Li X. et al (2013).
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex reduces nicotine cue craving. Biol Psychiatry. Apr 15;73(8):714-20.

Mhalla, A. et al (2011). Long-term maintenance of the analgesic effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation in fibromyalgia. Pain. Jul;152(7):1478-85.

Mishra, B.R., Nizamie, S.H., Das, B. & Praharaj, S.K. (2010). Efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in alcohol dependence: A sham-controlled study. Addiction, 105, 49 – 55.

Pallanti, S. and Bernardi, S. (2009). Neurobiology of repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of anxiety: a critical review. International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 24:163– 173,

Politi, E. et al (2009). Daily Sessions of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to the Left Prefrontal Cortex Gradually Reduce Cocaine Craving. The American Journal on Addictions, 17: 345–346.

Short, E. et al, (2011). Ten sessions of adjunctive left prefrontal rTMS significantly reduces fibromyalgia pain: a randomized, controlled pilot study. Pain. Nov;152(11):2477-84.

Smith, J. et al (2007). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for tinnitus: A pilot study. Laryngoscope, (117), 529-534.

Watts, B.V., et al (2012). A sham controlled study of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for posttraumatic stress disorder. Brain Stimul. Jan;5(1):38-43. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2011.02.002.