Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – the Best New Depression Treatment

10:56 AM, Feb 20, 2020

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is the most exciting and promising development in the treatment of depression in the past 30 years. The effectiveness of TMS, a novel treatment that works when traditional treatments fail, is quickly establishing this therapy as the most important development since the discovery of Prozac for depression.

Disclaimer: Yes, I am a physician, but I’m not your doctor and this article does not create a doctor-patient relationship. This article is for educational purposes and should not be seen as medical advice. You should consult with your physician before you rely on this information. This post also contains affiliate links. Please click this LINK for the full disclaimer.


When Prozac was approved by the FDA in 1987, it significantly impacted psychiatry in America. Prozac (fluoxetine) was the first serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) shown to be effective for many people with major depression. It was a game-changer as previous antidepressants had far more side effects and many were lethal in overdose, whereas Prozac is rarely lethal in overdose. Prozac ushered in a substantial increase in research and development of antidepressants. Since Prozac was introduced, well over a dozen antidepressants have been approved in the US. The problem is that antidepressants don’t work (or continue working) for some people.


People often feel frustrated and demoralized when traditional treatments such as antidepressant medications and psychotherapy fail. If something is not working, a person might decide that doing more of the same is not going to free them of their depression. There is some truth to that idea. There was a very large study, the Star*D trial, that showed that a person’s first antidepressant trial has a 33% chance of remission (fully free from depression). If the first few meds a person tries do not work, by the time the person gets to the 4th antidepressant, it has about a 7% chance of getting their depression to remission.


Antidepressants are not the end of the story. Even if someone is not benefiting from medications (or if the side effects are intolerable) and psychotherapy is not fully freeing them from depression, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can work. TMS stimulates brain circuits with powerful magnetic pulses to alleviate depression. The TMS research outcomes were so clear and convincing that we made dramatic changes to our practice at Big Sky Psychiatry in 2018 in order to offer TMS in Helena, Montana. We were very pleased to see that our treatment outcomes have matched the best results published in medical journals. We have seen astonishingly positive results for people even when they have severely treatment-resistant depression.


“I cannot stress enough what a positive experience TMS was for me! Not only because I was able to reach remission, but also because of the helpful and encouraging staff.”

“I would highly recommend [TMS] to anyone who is depressed and thinking of coming to Big Sky Psychiatry. I believe this treatment was lifesaving for me.”

“TMS has taken me from a black dismal hell of wanting to kill myself up to 50 times a day, and crying most of the day, to a world where rarely do I have suicidal thoughts. I am no longer dependent on antidepressants, which has been a long desire for over half my life.”

“TMS has helped me gain a more positive outlook on my life and has helped me to get out of bed and face my day. Before TMS, I could barely force myself to get out of bed and I had a terrible self-image.”

“I slowly became more interested in things than I had been in a long time. The process helped me to handle a time filled with projects, deadlines and stressful factors without falling apart. I have since begun to take better care of myself, smile more, and participate in activities that I had dropped many years ago.”


The best published outcomes for NeuroStar figure-8 TMS are a remission (fully free from depression) rate of 45% and a response (depression severity cut in half) rate of 68%. For BrainsWay Deep TMS the best published outcomes are a remission rate of 51% and a response rate of 75%. At Big Sky Psychiatry we use BrainsWay Deep TMS and thus far we have had 50% of our patients reach remission and 80% of our patients reach response. Prior to TMS, some of our patients had tried dozens of psychiatric medications and been depressed for decades. With BrainsWay TMS, many patients have been able to reduce or discontinue their psychiatric medications.

Call Big Sky Psychiatry or visit our website today to learn more.

Big Sky Psychiatry, where Hope becomes Results.

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