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Can TMS be Used to Treat ADHD?

Can TMS be Used to Treat ADHD?

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What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent pediatric psychiatric conditions defined by an incessant pattern of inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that obstructs behavior or growth.1

Although it is frequently diagnosed in childhood and persists far into adulthood, ADHD can affect adults and children. In the United States, 4% of adults and 9% of children have ADHD, and many live with symptoms all their lives.2

There are three types of ADHD:3

  • Predominantly Inattentive: People with this type of ADHD struggle to focus, complete work, and follow instructions. Disorganization, lack of focus, and forgetfulness are among the symptoms of inattentive-type ADHD, commonly referred to by the now-outdated label ADD.4
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive: This kind is characterized by hyperactive-impulsive conduct, such as fidgeting, interrupting others, and being unable to wait for one’s turn.
  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive: This form of ADHD is the most typical kind. It manifests as a combination of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive characteristics. This could involve a lack of concentration, a tendency toward impulsivity, and excessive amounts of energy and activity.

Signs & Symptoms of ADHD

Children who have trouble paying attention and acting appropriately are not uncommon. Children with ADHD do not, however, automatically outgrow these behaviors.

People living with ADHD may struggle to regulate their impulsive behavior and concentrate, or they may be highly active.5 The following additional ADHD symptoms are persistent and frequently severe, creating problems at home, at school, and in other social settings:

  • Frequent daydreaming
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Easily loses things
  • Squirming or fidgeting
  • Talking too much
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Making careless decisions
  • Hard time resisting temptation
  • Trouble with taking turns
  • Difficulty getting along with others

ADHD is brought on by an imbalance in the number of neurotransmitters created in the brain. The lack of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, in particular, contributes to ADHD’s development.

Although there is no quick test to detect if someone has ADHD, a specialist can provide an accurate diagnosis following a thorough evaluation. This evaluation includes a physical examination to rule out any other possible causes.6

Medication and behavioral therapy are the most common and effective treatments for ADHD. However, other ADHD treatments exist, including social support groups and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

TMS Treatment for ADHD

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique that delivers magnetic pulses to a patient’s brain. TMS is FDA-approved for use on patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD). Medical professionals are researching TMS as a potential treatment for many other disorders, including ADHD.7

A qualified TMS psychologist places a tiny coil on the patient’s head to produce a swiftly alternating current. Traveling through the scalp and bone without being impeded, the magnetic field created by the electrical current generates brain activity. The biochemistry of ADHD includes dopamine dysregulation, and TMS increases dopamine release from the prefrontal cortex.

TMS is a risk-free, non-invasive diagnostic treatment method and a great alternative to prescription medications.

Despite being few in number, the research studies involving TMS and ADHD have produced some encouraging findings. For example, TMS has been shown to decrease related symptoms in adolescents.8 In addition, ADHD TMS treatment supports the idea that a pathophysiological dopaminergic circuit plays a role in ADHD.

Two therapy studies utilizing Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) have shown some efficacy in treating ADHD, such as a brief improvement in attention.9 Additionally, TMS for ADHD has been found to be safe and effective, reducing symptoms over a three-week treatment period, according to a 2020 pilot study on adults with the disorder.10

Each treatment session lasts between three to forty minutes, depending on the protocol used. Patients can continue their regular daily activities immediately after that. According to scientific research, patients should undergo 20–30 sessions for depression. Patients receive five sessions every week, indicating that an ordinary TMS therapy course lasts 4 to 6 weeks.11

Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.

When Should TMS be Used to Treat ADHD?

TMS is usually recommended when you can’t handle the side effects of your medication(s), you’re dissatisfied with the outcomes it produces, or you have a condition making it difficult to take medication.12

Additionally, you must be healthy enough to receive TMS for ADHD. This means:13

  • No thoughts of suicide
  • No signs of psychosis
  • No metal inside the skull
  • There are no neurological issues (i.e., history of seizures)
  • Neither nursing nor pregnant
  • No substance abuse

How Will I Know TMS Treatment for ADHD is Working?

People frequently have the impression that they’ll feel better immediately. While occasionally true, you’ll typically feel worse before feeling better. Therefore, feeling worse is usually a sign that TMS therapy for ADHD is working. In addition, a reduction in ADHD symptoms is usually a good indication of an effective treatment.

Within the first two weeks of TMS therapy for ADHD, some patients begin to experience the advantages. Others don’t experience the benefits for a few weeks after starting treatment.

Are There any Side Effects or Risk of Using TMS for ADHD?

TMS for ADHD is an effective and safe treatment when used in accordance with the usage instructions. Additionally, it hasn’t shown any evidence of being able to worsen symptoms.

Side effects are rare but may include:14

  • Headaches
  • Scalp soreness
  • Tingling, spasms, or twitching facial muscles
  • Lightheadedness
  • Seizures (rare)
  • Hypomania or mania (rare and primarily seen in patients with bipolar disorder)

Who Should Avoid TMS for ADHD Treatment?

Those with certain medical issues should avoid TMS therapy for ADHD. For instance, those with a history of seizures, those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, those with metal implants in the brain or other parts of the body, and those nursing or pregnant should avoid TMS for ADHD.

Additionally, it’s important to inform your doctor of any prescription, over-the-counter, dietary supplement, or vitamin use. Serious consequences can arise from taking certain drug combinations. In addition, those with co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression, should talk to their doctor.15

Cost & Insurance Coverage for TMS for ADHD

Depending on how severe your ADHD symptoms are and your level of health insurance, TMS for ADHD costs will vary for each patient.

Insurance companies might demand that you seek prior authorization, try at least one other form of ADHD treatment before TMS, or cover the cost of at least a portion of the bill before starting TMS. In addition, treatments must typically be deemed “medically necessary” by insurance companies in order to be covered. Some might offer no TMS coverage at all.

Athena Care is in-network with most major insurance plans. Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best method to determine the specifics of your TMS treatment insurance coverage. A care coordinator can assist you with any questions or concerns regarding TMS for ADHD or insurance Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at one of our multiple Tennessee-based TMS treatment centers.

The expense of TMS therapy for ADHD may be at least $15,000 for individuals who pay for everything out of pocket.


  1. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services., www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd. Accessed 27 July 2022.
  2. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).” National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd. Accessed 31 Aug. 2022.
  3. The Healthline Editorial Team. “ADHD Treatment Options: Therapy, Medication, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 13 Dec. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/adhd/treatment-overview#3.
  4. ADDitude Editors, and William Dodson MD. “ADD vs. ADHD: What’s the Difference in Symptoms?” ADDitude, WebMD LLC, 18 Apr. 2022, www.additudemag.com/slideshows/add-vs-adhd.
  5. “What is ADHD?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html
  6. NHS website. “Diagnosis.” nhs.uk, 12 Jan. 2022, www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/diagnosis.
  7. [vii] “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).” Cleveland Clinic, 28 June 2018, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17827-transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-tms.
  8. Patel, Rikin Kumar, et al. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Adolescents With ADHD.” The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, vol. 23, no. 3, Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc, May 2021, https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.20br02602.
  9. Zaman, Rashid. “Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).” Psychiatria Danubina vol. 27 Suppl 1 (2015): S530-2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26417832/
  10. Alyagon, Uri, et al. “Alleviation of ADHD Symptoms by Non-invasive Right Prefrontal Stimulation Is Correlated With EEG Activity.” NeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 26, Elsevier BV, 2020, p. 102206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102206.
  11. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): What Happens During a Typical Session?” Top Doctors, 30 July 2020, www.topdoctors.co.uk/medical-articles/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-tms-what-happens-session.
  12. UNC Chapel Hill Department of Psychiatry. “Is TMS Right for Me?” Department of Psychiatry, 12 Oct. 2020, www.med.unc.edu/psych/patient-care/interventional-psychiatry/tms/candidates-for-tms-therapy.
  13. BrainsWay. “Who Is Eligible for, and Should Consider Deep TMS Treatment?” BrainsWay, 5 Jan. 2022, www.brainsway.com/patients-faqs/who-is-eligible-for-deep-tms-treatment.
  14. Mishra, Biswa Ranjan. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Psychiatry Mishra BR, Sarkar S, Praharaj SK, Mehta VS, Diwedi S, Nizamie S H – Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 1 Oct. 2011, www.annalsofian.org/article.asp?issn=0972-2327;year=2011;volume=14;issue=4;spage=245;epage=251;aulast=Mishra.
  15. International OCD Foundation. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for OCD.” International OCD Foundation, 18 Aug. 2022, iocdf.org/about-ocd/ocd-treatment/tms.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control. 

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