How Many TMS Treatments Are Needed?

Learn how TMS treatments can alleviate symptoms of neurological and mental health conditions.

TMS Treatments

Article Contents

Understanding TMS

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a therapy that stimulates the brain. TMS is non-invasive and uses electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve impulses. The goal of TMS is to improve symptoms linked to certain neurological and mental health conditions.

TMS is often used primarily as a depression treatment; nonetheless, It has proven successful in helping those whose symptoms did not respond to other treatments such as therapy and antidepressant medications. The effectiveness of TMS for patients with major depression led to its approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 as a treatment for depressive disorders

Effectiveness of TMS

Studies on transcranial magnetic stimulation focus primarily on treating depression. Nonetheless, TMS treatment may help with several other mental health conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction. It has also shown effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of neurological conditions, diseases of the brain, and muscle conditions, such as post-stroke rehabilitation, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain conditions, and multiple sclerosis.


As previously noted, most of the research surrounding TMS therapy focuses on its efficacy as a depression treatment. In cases where it is used to address depression symptoms, TMS psychiatric treatment shows promise. Some studies indicate response rates of patients with depression are between 30% and 64%. Additional research is needed to understand TMS therapy success for other conditions.

How Many TMS Treatments Are Needed?

Like many other forms of mental health treatment, TMS brain treatments vary in duration depending on people’s unique needs and specific conditions. Thus, the number and frequency of treatments needed will vary from person to person.

In general, TMS treatment lasts between thirty and sixty minutes. Additionally, most people will need to attend repeat treatment sessions five days a week for four to six weeks to experience the most significant benefit from this type of treatment.

Factors That Determine TMS Treatment Frequency

As previously mentioned, patients will work with their mental health provider to determine how many TMS treatments are needed to meet their treatment needs and goals. Note that a range of person-specific factors may impact the frequency of TMS treatments and the effectiveness of the TMS treatment process.

The Severity of Symptoms
The severity of people’s symptoms and the nature of their specific condition may influence the success of their treatment program.

Past and Current Medication History
TMS treatments are frequently the next step when mediation is ineffective or symptoms remain despite antidepressants. Regardless, It is important to note that it is unnecessary to stop using prescription antidepressant medications while completing TMS treatments.

Past and Current Diagnoses
TMS treatments are primarily used for depression; however, they have shown promise with other medical or mental health conditions.

Possible Contraindications
Although TMS treatments are considered safe, there are certain instances where TMS should be avoided. These include cases where metal is implanted in the brain, ear, or face, e.g., metal plates, shrapnel, aneurysm clips, permanent piercings, etc.

Other Past and Current Treatments
Some research indicates that TMS treatments may be successful for certain individuals depending on the success rates of previous treatment programs.

Pros and Cons of TMS Therapy

How To Prepare for a TMS Therapy

TMS treatment is a non-invasive procedure, and therefore, minimal preparation is required before a session. In most cases, it is possible to incorporate a treatment session into one’s daily routine either before work or even on a lunch break. In addition, there are no excessive or complex recovery needs associated with TMS, making it a far more tolerable option than other forms of treatment. People do not need a driver to bring them home after a session, and no anesthesia is required, so they can return to their day-to-day obligations immediately after a session if desired.

Physical and Psychological Exam

Before beginning TMS treatments, the patient’s provider will conduct a detailed physical and psychological exam. During the physical exam, they will use lab tests and other forms of physical exam procedures to determine if any underlying medical concerns could contribute to depression. The doctor will also want to ensure there aren’t any physical limitations, such as those listed above, that could indicate TMS treatments might not be suitable for the patient’s needs.

In addition, a psychiatric evaluation will be conducted. This part of the evaluation will focus on learning more about the person’s depression and how the symptoms impact their daily routines. The doctor will also want to rule out any potential co-occurring disorders or alternate diagnoses to reduce the potential for adverse TMS treatment side effects.

What To Expect

A skilled technician or physician conducts TMS sessions. Because TMS is a non-invasive outpatient procedure, it does not require a hospital or inpatient setting. For example, if a provider is located in a hospital environment, admission and an overnight stay are unnecessary.

First Session

At the beginning of every patient’s very first session, the technician will measure their head to determine the best placement for the magnetic coil used in TMS therapy. They will also collect other measurements to ensure the treatment is personalized to each patient’s body and needs.


Before the treatment begins, all jewelry and other objects that could be sensitive to magnets must be removed. The technician will provide earplugs to help reduce the noise associated with the magnetic pulses. Patients will sit comfortably in a chair throughout the procedure.

During the Session

Throughout the session, patients will hear a clicking sound as the coil releases magnetic impulses. They will also feel a light tapping or thumping sensation in the area below the coil. The session will last approximately thirty to sixty minutes, after which patients are free to return home or to work.

TMS side effects are uncommon; however, some people report mild headaches after their session. The advantageous nature of TMS treatments include the ability to go back to normal activity right after a session.

Iris Healing Support

If you or a loved one struggles with depression and traditional therapeutic techniques are not as effective as desired, TMS treatment could be the next step to recovery. TMS has proven successful for people struggling with depression and helps manage their symptoms when other treatments have failed to achieve optimal success or failed. If you would like to learn more about TMS therapy and if it is right for you, contact Iris Healing in Woodland Hills, CA, today.

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