beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

TMS for Severe Depression

Innovative Therapy Offered By Most Experienced Team

There is an innovative therapy for those who have moderate to severe depression that has had trouble responding to medication. It is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center were on the forefront of developing this advanced technology.

Changes Brain Activity Without Surgery

TMS works by using magnetic fields to stimulate or suppress specific nerve cell activity in the brain. Using TMS allows doctors to change brain activity without surgery and with minimal discomfort to the patient.

Approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, neurologist and director of the Berenson-Allen Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, conducted the first controlled clinical trial demonstrating the efficacy of TMS in depression. The results were published in the clinical journal The Lancet in 1996. The therapy has continuously been offered to appropriate patients at BIDMC in both research trials and in the clinical setting for over 10 years. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy System for use in some patients suffering from medication-resistant depression. Beth Israel Deaconess was proud to be the first to offer this therapy to patients in the Boston area.

Forty Minute Treatment Sessions

Sessions take about forty minutes and are recommended every day for a period of several weeks. Patients are awake during treatment and recline in a comfortable chair. A current passes through a coil of copper wire that is held over the patient's head. The coil resembles a paddle or large spoon and is held in place either by the clinician or a fixed pole-like device. As the current passes through the coil, it creates a magnetic field that penetrates the scalp and skull and in turn, induces a current in the patient's brain.

Reduction in Depression Symptoms

In clinical studies, patients treated with NeuroStar TMS Therapy experienced an average reduction in their depression symptoms of over 20 percent, more than twice the average reduction in those receiving an inactive treatment. Most importantly, individual patients can show striking benefits with complete resolution of the depression and practically no side effects. Individual responses can vary, but we are on the forefront in designing individualized treatment protocols to maximize the chance of improvement.

Trained and Experienced Clinician-Scientists

TMS therapy should be delivered only by those who are experienced and have been properly trained. In this context, BIDMC is proud that the Berenson-Allen Center offers the most experienced clinicians in New England and the longest-running medical education course in the world in noninvasive brain stimulation: to date, they have trained more than 200 clinician-scientists from around the globe.

There Can Be Side Effects

TMS is not for everyone and there can be side effects, including a slight risk of seizure and convulsions. Therefore, careful evaluation by capable clinicians is critical and at BIDMC we have the benefit of longstanding experience and expertise.

Insurance Coverage

Not all insurance companies pay for the treatment. However, our team will assist you in contacting your insurer to request coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions

To get answers to the most frequently asked questions about TMS treatment for severe depression, click here.

More Information

For more detailed information on TMS treatment at Beth Israel Deaconess, click here.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, call 617-667-0303.

Contact Information

Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Kirstein Building 158
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-667-0307
Fax: 617-975-5322