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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Depression

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Depression

Depression is common, and a growing concern in the United States, where more than 16 million adults have been diagnosed. In addition to being common, depression is often difficult to treat because not all medications work in the same way for all people. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is an alternative treatment that may be right for you. 

At Integrated Spine And Pain Care, our goal is to help you live your life without symptoms of depression. Dr. Mikael Sarij has many years of experience in helping individuals with mood disorders and follows an integrative model of care. He works with you, as an individual, to find the treatment that works in the context of your life. 


TMS is a non-invasive therapy, which means that you don’t endure so much as a needle-stick during treatment. Instead, it stimulates nerve cells in your brain through repetitive magnetic pulses to alleviate depression. These magnetic pulses send signals to your brain cells to release neurotransmitters. 

TMS therapy targets the area of your brain that controls your mood and reactivates areas that have been affected by depression. We start with the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, but we can also treat other areas of your brain, depending on your specific symptoms. Treatment is always tailored individually to you. 

Studies have also shown that TMS can effectively treat the following diagnoses: addiction, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, post-stroke rehabilitation, bipolar, autism, alzheimer's/dementia, eating disorders, postpartum depression, and tinnitus.

You don’t need sedation during a TMS therapy session because it is completely painless and safe. It has far fewer side effects than medications traditionally used to treat depression and is far less intense than other forms of therapy like deep brain stimulation. Many people with treatment-resistant depression find that TMS works where medication and psychotherapy have failed. 

What you should expect 

During your TMS session, you sit in a comfortable chair. You may feel a light tapping sensation on your head as the magnetic pulses pass through your skull, but it’s not painful. You should expect to be comfortable. 

In your first TMS session, we measure your head so that we can more easily locate the area to be treated. Then we calibrate the TMS machine and test it on the part of your brain that controls your thumb. When we can cause your thumb to move, we calculate the treatment dose. In the following sessions, we slowly work toward your full treatment level. 

When you undergo TMS treatment, you come in for a session Monday through Friday for a six-week period, for 30 total sessions. Then, you have a two-week tapering off period, where you only come in for two to three sessions a week.

Would you like to learn more about TMS? Give us a call or go online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sarij for a consultation to find out if you’re a good candidate for this type of therapy.

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