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Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-approved treatment for major depressive disorder. The procedure uses a specialized helmet which targets the brain with magnetic pulses. These pulsations create weak electrical currents that stimulate parts of the brain in patients suffering from depression.

The NorthShore Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences offers this service through Evanston Hospital for patients experiencing moderate to severe depression that have not experienced improvements in their condition through antidepressants or other psychotherapies.

Qualifying for TMS

TMS is only used for patients with major depressive disorder who have not seen results with previous treatments. In order to qualify for TMS, patients must:

  • Be between 18-75 years old
  • Have previously tried 4 antidepressants in 2 classes and have received some form of structured psychotherapy
  • Currently have a psychiatrist (if you do not have a psychiatrist, our team can refer you to one)
  • Provide informed consent if pregnant
  • Be willing to stop alcohol consumption for the duration of the treatment
  • Not have any brain tumors or other severe neurological conditions (dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s, etc...)
  • Not have any metal clips, plates, screws or implanted devices in the head or neck (excluding dental work)
  • Commit to a 4 or more week schedule of treatments taking place at Evanston Hospital
  • Be comfortable participating in an evaluation (detailing possible changes in medication) by a psychiatrist

During the TMS Procedure

Treatment will take place over at least 4 weeks, which requires patients to come to Evanston Hospital every weekday. The first session will take 1 hour, and further sessions will be 30 minutes. After 4 weeks, sessions will taper off with a maximum of 36 treatments depending on each individual patient’s condition and response to TMS. Patients will schedule an allotted time, which will remain consistent throughout the process.

  • To begin, you will be seated in the TMS chair and the helmet will be placed onto your head.
  • The machine will deliver short, 2 second pulses with approximately 20 second periods between them, targeting the brain with magnetic waves. You will need to remain still – if you feel the need to move or reposition yourself, alert your care team immediately.
  • After treatment is done, you may resume regular activities.
  • Some patients experience mild fatigue or headaches. Pain can be managed with OTC pain reliever medication.

After the TMS Procedure

Response to treatment varies for each patient – changes are anticipated within 2-4 weeks, but not all patients will experience a change in mood. If treatment is found to be ineffective, your care team will work with you to consider next steps.

Insurance Information

This procedure is covered by most, but not all insurance companies. Please contact your insurance carrier for more information.

For More Information

TMS is currently offered at NorthShore Evanston Hospital. For more information on the procedure, to find out if you qualify or to schedule a consultation, please fill out our consultation request form. You can also view the TMS FAQs page.

*If you have additional inquiries about qualifying for TMS or the procedure, you may contact 847.570.2756.

If you have any thoughts of harming yourself or others, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.