Frequently Asked Questions About TMS

Please find answers to common questions about TMS below.

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Is TMS like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

No. ECT works by intentionally inducing a small, brief seizure by passing electrical currents through the brain. The procedure seems to help the brain “reboot,” which helps improve or reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses, including severe or treatment-resistant depression. Because it triggers seizures, ECT is performed while patients are under general anesthesia. ECT also has a risk of memory loss.


By contrast, TMS requires no sedation, anesthesia, or electrical currents. Patients are awake and alert for the duration of each session, and can transport themselves to and from treatment. Unlike with ECT, there is no memory impairment associated with TMS. And while a low risk of seizure exists with TMS therapy, documented instances of seizures as a side effect of TMS are rare.


How does TMS work?

The initial session involves “mapping,” a process for determining the precise location on the scalp for the TMS device. Then the doctor determines the amount of magnetic energy that will be needed for your treatments. As you sit in a reclining chair, an electromagnetic coil is placed on your scalp and switched on and off repeatedly for a few seconds at a time. You will feel tapping on your scalp and hear clicking sounds. Earplugs are required to prevent any hearing discomfort.


In subsequent sessions, a technician will place the magnetic coil on your scalp at the location determined by the doctor during the initial session, and turn the machine on. You’ll feel the tapping and hear the clicking as the magnetic pulses stimulate the area of your brain linked to depression. You will be sitting in the chair, awake and alert for the duration of the treatment session.


Is TMS painful?

Some patients report some discomfort on the scalp at the treatment site; spasms or twitching of facial muscles;
mild headaches; or lightheadedness. These experiences dissipate shortly after the session ends.


How long does each session last?

Individual TMS sessions take 15 – 60 minutes. Most patients require 36 sessions. To ensure effectiveness of the treatment, the sessions must occur five days a week for seven weeks.

What is the time commitment necessary for TMS?

TMS patients must commit to coming to Dr. Gloss’s office for the procedure five days per week, at the same time each day, for seven weeks.

Will I need ongoing TMS maintenance treatment?

The need for maintenance TMS sessions varies by individual and is determined by clinical judgment.

Is TMS covered by insurance?

Most insurance plans cover TMS therapy. Prior authorization is usually required, except with Medicare plans.
Please contact Dr. Gloss's staff at (617) 277-0939 to find out if we accept your insurance plan.

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© 2019, Dr. Mark Gloss 

(617) 277-0939

1180 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA