Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Since the 1980s, transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used to study the nerve fibers that carry information about movements from the brain to the spinal cord and onto 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 30 randomized, controlled trials studying transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment for depression have been published by investigators throughout the world. 1,2

How It Works

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, uses a highly targeted pulsed magnetic field, similar in type and strength to those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, to stimulate areas of the brain that are underactive in patients with depression.

  1. Precise pulsed magnetic fields induce small electric currents in the prefrontal cortex of the brain
  2. Local neurons depolarize, which leads to activation of deep brain structures via transsynaptic pathways
  3. Activation of these pathways in the limbic system leads to the release of neurotransmitters
  4. Blood flow and glucose metabolism rise in the activated regions, which is thought to result in improved mood

Neuroimaging studies have documented changes in cortical metabolic activity in tissue directly stimulated by TMS and in distal networks known to be involved in mood regulation.
Repeated activation of the left prefrontal cortex is known to produce antidepressant effects in patients suffering from major depression.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy® provides targeted stimulation of the brain regions involved in mood regulation without the burden of systemic side effects.

About NeuroStar TMS Therapy

NeuroStar TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) Therapy® is FDA-cleared for patients suffering from depression who have not achieved satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication*. Using pulsed magnetic fields, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy stimulates the part of the brain thought to be involved with mood regulation. TMS Therapy is a short outpatient procedure. During treatment, patients are awake and alert and may return to normal activities immediately after treatment. The typical initial course of treatment is about 37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.

1) Schutter, D. (2009). “Antidepressant efficacy of high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in double-blind sham-controlled designs: a meta-analysis.” Psychological Medicine 39: 65-75.

2) Data on file.

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*NeuroStar TMS Therapy® is indicated for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder in adult patients who have failed to receive satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication in the current episode.

In an NIMH-funded, independent, randomized controlled trial, patients treated with TMS using a clinical trial version of the NeuroStar TMS System, were four times more likely to achieve remission compared to patients receiving sham treatment (P = 0.0173; odds ratio = 4.05)1

The most common side effect is pain or discomfort at or near the treatment site.2 These events are transient; they occur during the TMS treatment course and do not occur for most patients after the first week of treatment. NeuroStar TMS Therapy is contraindicated in patients with non-removable conductive metal in or near the head.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy is available by prescription only. For full prescribing and safety information, please visit or call Neuronetics Customer Service at 1-877-600-7555.

1) George, MS, et al. (2010). Daily Left Prefrontal Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder A Sham-Controlled Randomized Trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 67(5): 507-516.
2) Janicak, PG, et al. (2008) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the Treatment of Major Depression: A Comprehensive Summary of Safety Experience from Acute and Extended Exposure and During Reintroduction Treatment. J Clin Psychiatry, 69(2):222-232.