The treatment process

How does NeuroStar TMS Therapy Work?

Through a treatment coil, the NeuroStar TMS Therapy system generates highly concentrated magnetic fields that turn on and off very rapidly. These magnetic fields are the same type and strength as those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

The treatment coil is applied to the head above the left prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is involved with mood regulation, and therefore, is the location where the magnetic fields are focused. These magnetic fields do not directly affect the whole brain; they reach only about two to three centimeters into the brain directly beneath the treatment coil. As these magnetic fields move into the brain, they produce very small electrical currents. These electrical currents activate cells within the brain that are thought to release neurotransmitters.

The concept behind the mechanism that activates TMS is called Neuroplasticity.  In short, the brain has an ability to create new, effective pathways to help regulate the body.  Through stimulation of the left prefrontal cortex, we are able to induce the brain into creating new pathways for effective transmission of neurons.  To learn more about the concept of neuroplasticity click here.

What are the benefits and risks of NeuroStar TMS therapy?

NeuroStar TMS Therapy has been demonstrated to be safe and tolerable.  Over 10,000 active treatments were safely performed with NeuroStar TMS Therapy during the clinical trials.

  • No side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, stomach problems, sleepiness or dry mouth were seen during trials.
  • There were no negative effects on memory or ability to concentrate.

The most commonly reported side effect related to treatment was scalp pain or discomfort during the treatment session. This side effect was generally mild to moderate and occurred less frequently after the first week of treatment. Less than 5% of patients treated with NeuroStar TMS Therapy discontinued treatment due to side effects.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy has been demonstrated to be effective in major depressive disorder. Efficacy was established in a controlled clinical trial comparing active treatment with the NeuroStar TMS Therapy system to an inactive device. Patients treated with active NeuroStar TMS Therapy experienced an average reduction in their depression symptom score of 22.1% compared to a 9% average reduction in patients receiving inactive treatment. NeuroStar-treated patients also experienced significant improvement in anxiety, appetite changes, aches and pains and lack of energy associated with depression. In an open label trial, which is most like a real world clinical practice, approximately one out of two patients treated with NeuroStar TMS Therapy experienced significant improvement in depression symptoms. Approximately one out of three patients treated with NeuroStar TMS Therapy experienced complete symptom relief at the end of six weeks. As with any antidepressant treatment, patients should be monitored for symptoms of worsening depression.

Which patients are good candidates for NeuroStar TMS Therapy?

NeuroStar TMS Therapy is an appropriate treatment option for adult patients with major depressive disorder who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from one prior antidepressant medication at or above the minimal effective dose and duration in the current episode. In clinical trials, half of the patients had been treated with at least four medication treatment attempts, one of which was at an adequate dose and duration. NeuroStar TMS Therapy has not been studied in patients who have not received prior antidepressant treatment. Efficacy has not been established in patients who have failed to receive benefit from two or more prior antidepressant medications at minimal effective dose and duration in the current episode. Not all patients are appropriate candidates for NeuroStar TMS Therapy. To determine if NeuroStar TMS Therapy may be right for you, please talk with your physician.

Please watch the video below to learn how TMS works.