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Neurosciences and Behavioral Health Center

TMS Therapy for Depression

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-approved, non-drug treatment option for depression. About one-third of people with depression experience little to no relief of symptoms from standard treatments. 

Watch this video about TMS therapy
Learn more about TMS therapy at UVA.

How TMS Therapy Works

TMS therapy uses painless electrical currents and magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in your brain and lessen depression.

TMS therapy:

  • Targets the parts of the brain that regulate mood
  • Does not enter the bloodstream
  • Can be used alone or in conjunction with medication and/or psychotherapy 

Before therapy, your doctor will perform a full evaluation and work with you to tailor a treatment plan that meets your needs and goals.

About the TMS Treatment Session

During therapy, you’ll sit with a large electromagnetic coil placed near the left side of your forehead. During a session, you can read or watch TV. 

The treatment schedule typically includes:

  • Daily sessions 5 days a week
  • Sessions that last 30-40 minutes
  • A treatment span of 4-6 weeks

Many patients begin to experience symptom relief after three weeks.

Who Benefits From TMS?

To qualify, you must have previously tried at least one anti-depressant with little success. 

You can self-refer or be referred by other health providers. 

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