How Does TMS Therapy Work?

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    Bailey CarterBailey Carter

    Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression.

    During a TMS treatment, an electromagnetic coil is positioned against the scalp near the forehead. The coil generates painless but highly concentrated magnetic pulses that stimulate nerve cells in the specific regions of the brain involved in depression and mood control. The magnetic fields target the area a few centimeters into the brain, directly beneath the treatment coil.

    For depression, the targeted area is the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The magnetic fields sent through the coil create electrical activity in the nerve cells. At present, the mechanism of action is unknown but could be related to this direct electric activity or indirect neurotransmitter effects in the brain. Regardless of the mechanism, it is well accepted by researchers and clinicians that magnetic stimulation affects not only the targeted area, the prefrontal cortex, but also the connected areas of the brain, the cingulate, amygdala, hypothalamus, and thalamus.

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