How It Works

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation uses energy created by pulsed magnetic fields to stimulate particular cortical neurons, as well as deep neural structures and pathways that control mood and depression in the brain. Treatment is initiated by applying the magnetic coil to the head over the left prefrontal cortex area. Once treatment begins, the TMS system will deliver sufficient stimulation to the predetermined area which will then stimulate neurons to “fire” and release chemical messengers that help in the treatment of depression. These activated neurons then stimulate deeper and more distant brain regions via known neural pathways.  This series of events happens between 3000 to 5000 times a treatment session.  Over the course of the average treatment, the brain practices enough times that it becomes able to do this on its own once the treatment has stopped.


TMS Therapy is a safe procedure which utilizes a technology similar to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which has a long-term record of safety. TMS Therapy has been demonstrated to be safe in clinical trials involving the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder and who have had an inadequate response to initial antidepressant medication. Treatment with TMS Therapy causes few if any side effects and is well tolerated by patients. The most common side effect reported during clinical trials was scalp pain or discomfort — generally mild to moderate.  This pain exists only during the procedure and typically goes away after one to three treatments.

TMS Therapy uses strong magnets to create the energy to cause neurons in the brain to fire.  These magnets are the same ones used in MRI’s, which has extensive safety data.  In addition, TMS Therapy exposes the individual to only 1/30th the magnetic field of that of MRI’s.

TMS Therapy does not expose an individual to the same range of side effects that typical psychiatric medications potentially cause.

TMS Therapy does not cause:

  • Weight Gain
  • Sexual Side Effects
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Gastro-intestinal Distress


Listed below are issues that would prohibit someone from receiving TMS:

  • Implanted metallic devices in the skull.
  • Non-removable metallic objects in or around the head (some tattoos and permanent eye liner have metallic components in the dyes used)
  • Implants controlled by physiological signals (Vagal Nerve Stimulators, Cardio-verter Defibrillators, Pacemakers)

Metallic fillings and metal involved indental work does not generally impact the ability to receive treatment.


News & Links

News related to TMS in both our community and others is becoming increasingly frequent.  Dr. Barton and our Nashville TMS location staff have attempted to provide you with links and information highlighting some of these news stories.  Check back in this area as our news links are being continuously updated as news happens and is written about.


 TMS and Depression & Anxiety

APA News: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Shows Long-Term Benefit in Treating Depression

New data shows long-term benefits of transcranial magnetic stimulation

New technique zaps major depression

Martha Rhodes TMS Memoir

TMS eases depression and pain

NOVA scienceNOW documentary on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Dr. Oz features Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

TMS for Resistant Depression: Long-term Results Are In

Depression Hope Center

TMS may reduce depression and fatigue in MS patients (multiple sclerosis)

TMS and Postpartum Depression (PPD)

TMS may become a preferred treatment for postpartum depression 


TMS and Autism

Social skills in autistics boosted after magnetic brain wave treatment

TMS and Eating Disorders

Brain stimulation shows promise against eating disorders

Magnetic therapy cuts binge-purge eating

New bulimia treatment could cure patients for up to a year by “re-tuning” the brain to boost self-control

TMS and Addiction

Magnetic fields help smokers quit

Magnetic therapy may help smokers quit

TMS therapy and alcohol addiction treatment recovery 

TMS and Chronic Pain

Make it Stop: To heal the hurt, Stanford researchers are getting to the root of chronic pain

The next wave in pain treatment


For more up-to-date news and research, please visit our Facebook page!



Dr. Barton and his Nashville TMS team are continually searching the literature and news related to treating depression with TMS Therapy.  TMS Therapy is also being researched and used in many other disorders and illnesses.  Other issues involving intense and active research are that for Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,  Pervasive Development Disorders (Aspergers and Autism), Migraines, Tinnitus (persistan ringing in the ears), and Fibromyalgia.

What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) Therapy involves the use of short pulsed magnetic fields to stimulate brain cells that control mood. TMS was FDA approved for the treatment of Depression in 2008, and is currently being studied and used in the treatment of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Migraines, Focal Chronic Pain, Tinnitus, and PTSD.

Is TMS the same as ECT?

Both therapies use electricity to stimulate the brain but that is really where the similarities end. ECT is administered while the patient is under general anesthesia. The ECT treatment causes temporary confusion as well as temporary trouble with memory and sometimes permanent memory loss. TMS therapy is performed while the patient is awake and none of the above side effects have been associated with TMS treatment.

Will I need anesthesia?  

No. TMS is an outpatient procedure administered while the patient is awake. You will be able to drive yourself home and resume normal activity immediately upon leaving treatment.

Is TMS Therapy uncomfortable?

Some patients may experience slight scalp sensitivity surrounding the area of treatment during their initial few visits. The discomfort ranges from mild to moderate and may cause a headache. This discomfort is generally only reported in patients during their first week of treatment.

Will I have to stop taking antidepressant(s)?

No. TMS Therapy can be safely administered with and without other antidepressant medications.

Are there side-effects?

The most common side-effects associated with TMS are mild headaches and scalp soreness, both of which usually subside after the first week of treatment. The TMS machine intermittently makes clicking noises which may bother patients, and because of this ear plugs are provided at the beginning of each treatment. In extremely rare cases seizures have been reported. If a seizure occurs the TMS machine will be turned off and the seizure will stop. The risk of seizing is less than 0.05% and seizures have never been reported to take place outside of the treatment room where patients are monitored.

How long do TMS sessions take?

Typically the sessions are scheduled for 1 hour time slots with actual treatment lasting about 36 to 39 minutes.

How long will I have to come for treatment?

TMS therapy is a commitment to your mental health and life quality. Individual treatment plans vary but generally treatment sessions are administered once a day, 5 days a week over the course of 6 weeks. We understand that people have busy lives and therefore do our best to work out a schedule and time that best suits the needs of our patients.

Have more questions? We would love to answer them for you. Call us anytime at (615) 900-4442