Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

TMS Treatment Program

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TMS is a novel, non-invasive form of brain stimulation therapy for mood disorders using focused pulsed magnetic fields. A session is typically delivered in a physician’s office on an outpatient basis and lasts about 30 minutes. You will be fully conscious and aware throughout the procedure and no post-session recovery period is needed. You will be able to resume your normal activities like work or driving without interruption.

A course of TMS can be anywhere from 10 to 30 sessions depending on the disorder and its severity to provide acute relief of symptoms. Maintenance TMS sessions can be provided subsequently to prevent recurrence of symptoms, with a frequency of sessions needed that can range from 1 per week to as little as 1 per month.

It is a very safe procedure and lacks many of the side effects that are common with some medications such as weight gain, sedation, and sexual dysfunction. The most common side effect of TMS is a mild headache in 10-30% of patients, which is usually limited to the first week of treatment, after which accommodation to the stimulation occurs.

TMS has shown a lot of promise as a treatment for major depression, bipolar depression, and a number of other neuropsychiatric disorders including Tourette's syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, and migraine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US approved a TMS device in October 2008 for the treatment of major depression under specific clinical circumstances. Approval by the FDA is necessary so as to begin the process of getting insurance companies to develop policies to cover TMS as a treatment for patients. However, this usually takes some time, and reimbursement is limited to those cases that meet the specific clinical criteria approved by the FDA. At present, we offer TMS at Penn on a self-pay basis only.



Appointments arrow

TMS Treatment Program is now open and accepting appointments.

Please click here for information about scheduling.