Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) uses very short, repeated pulses of electromagnetic energy to alter the activity of nerve cells in the brain. Magnetic fields have been used to modulate the activity of the brain for decades. We are now approaching the 10th anniversary of the FDA approval of this revolutionary treatment for depression. Thousands of patients with depression in dozens of studies have shown that rTMS is safe and effective.
UCLA participated in a large, multi-site study of TMS in real-world, care-seeking patients and found improvements not only in symptoms of depression, but also in quality of life. rTMS is highly effective for patients who have failed to benefit from antidepressant medication and has very few side-effects.
The short pulses of magnetic energy produced by a TMS system are focused at structures in the brain that are involved in the regulation of mood and emotion. Magnetic fields pass unimpeded through the skull and into the top layers of the brain tissue.
Unlike the static (unchanging) magnetic fields from stationary permanent magnets, the pulsed magnetic field used in TMS induces electrical microcurrents in nearby brain tissue. Although they are small, these induced currents can cause brain cells to fire or become more active. When performed daily for six weeks, rTMS “resets” brain networks and relieves symptoms of depression.
Patients remain awake and alert during a TMS Therapy procedure, and may read, watch video, listen to music, or meditate/relax — whatever will help put an individual in the best possible frame of mind.