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What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive mental health treatment that stimulates the brain electrically in patients with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment-resistant depression, and other psychiatric and neurological conditions.
A small coil is applied to the scalp, and a rapidly alternating current is sent through the coil wire. The magnetic field produced by the electrical current induces neural activation by penetrating the scalp and bone without obstructing it.
According to numerous studies, TMS’s benefits can continue even after the typical treatment phase of a few weeks. Depending on the equipment and clinical protocol, each session could take anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes, on average.1 The most common minor side effects are headache, tingling, and lightheadedness right after therapy.2
According to a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) report, an observational study involving 307 individuals in a clinical setting revealed that the patient’s depression decreased after TMS therapy. These findings demonstrated that TMS significantly impacted a depressed person’s symptoms, as measured by the Hamilton depression scale.3 While individual outcomes may vary, roughly 50% to 60% of those who have TMS report improved depressive symptoms.
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.
How Can TMS Help Veterans?
TMS therapy was looked into in a study published in the Biological Psychiatry journal to treat people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and PTSD, as these conditions frequently coexist.4 Over several weeks, patients received about 36 sessions, ranging in length from 15 to 40 minutes.
The results showed that symptoms significantly improved in one-third of the patients. This response rate is lower than for either condition by itself. However, given the seriousness of the disorder, this is appropriate. The researchers presumed that this beneficial reaction was caused by improved communication between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala.
Further research reveals that compared to how people in the general population respond to mental health treatments, veterans may respond differently for various reasons, including that many veterans have comorbid conditions. This conclusion has been well-documented in studies of PTSD treatment, where veterans did not demonstrate the treatment benefits reported in trials using pharmaceutical and psychotherapeutic interventions.5,6
However, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation resulted in clinically significant decreases in depression and PTSD symptoms in the largest trial of US military veterans.7 Furthermore, the degree of the observed improvements was not impacted by PTSD.
With the expectation that it will develop into new treatments for neurological illnesses, pain management, and physical rehabilitation in addition to psychiatry, TMS for veterans is being actively studied across conditions and disciplines.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and other entities are studying the usefulness of TMS in treating illnesses such as bipolar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety, addiction, ADHD, eating disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), tinnitus, and PTSD in extensive clinical trials. Unfortunately, TMS for these illnesses is not yet approved and would be regarded as “off-label” despite intriguing research.
Athena Care offers a full-spectrum of mental and behavioral health services to those in Tennessee.
We have qualified therapists and accept many of the big name insurance providers. Our locations are open Monday-Friday from 7am to 6pm. Learn more below:
Signs TMS is Right for You
TMS Therapy may be beneficial for you if:8
- Your condition is diagnosed as Major Depressive Disorder.
- Your depression has not been successfully treated with conventional drugs. Before beginning TMS, people usually try 2-4 medications without success.
- You can’t tolerate the side effects of your medication(s).
- You’re dissatisfied with the outcomes of medication.
- You have a condition that makes it difficult to take depression medication.
- The symptoms of depression and anxiety impact your daily life.
Benefits of TMS for Veterans
Aside from being a non-invasive treatment, TMS therapy for veterans has additional benefits, including:
- Minor side effects, if any at all
- Improvement and reduction in symptoms associated with depression and comorbid disorders like PTSD
- Can reduce or eliminate the need for prescription drugs
- TMS therapy doesn’t affect your ability to operate a vehicle
- The positive effects endure long after treatment has ended
Is TMS Covered by VA Benefits or Veteran Insurance?
Most major insurance will pay for TMS therapy every six months if specific requirements are met. Every insurer has its own set of requirements but, generally speaking, the fundamental standards include the following:
- A depression diagnosis
- A history of antidepressants trials
- A history of psychotherapy, therapy, or counseling, either in-person or in outpatient settings, with your psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or other professional
- Cannot suffer from a seizure disorder
- Cannot contain any ferromagnetic metal in or around the head
The VA’s TRICARE insurance covers TMS for veterans with treatment-resistant major depression as an outpatient procedure who meet certain criteria.9 Managed by the Department of Defense (DOD) health agency, TRICARE is a global healthcare program for active duty service members, retirees, and their families.10 With three TRICARE facilities across Tennessee, mental health services for veterans remains a top priority.11
Athena Care, a TMS clinic in Tennessee, is in-network with most major insurance plans. Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best method to determine if and to what degree your particular insurance covers TMS therapy.
Allow our highly experienced, expert care coordinators to handle the challenges of contacting your insurance carrier for more information about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation coverage. A care coordinator will review your policy and clearly explain your options after you’ve completed the form. Rest assured, all submitted or discussed information is kept private.
You can find a list of TMS providers here, organized by city, along with information about their backgrounds and specialties.
How Much Does TMS for Veterans Cost?
The following are the average costs for TMS therapy without coverage. These costs may vary by location and other factors. Therefore, they may not reflect the actual cost of what you may pay in Tennessee.
Sessions of TMS therapy typically cost $400 to $500 each.12 However, TMS could cost up to $15,000 because most patients need numerous sessions to get the best results.
- Stern, Adam MD. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): Hope for Stubborn Depression.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 27 Oct. 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-for-depression-2018022313335.
- Contributor, VAntagePoint. “Veterans With PTSD Treated With Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.” VA News, 1 June 2018, news.va.gov/49058/veterans-ptsd-treated-transcranial-magnetic-stimulation.
- Rizvi, Sukaina, and Ali M. Khan. “Use of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression.” Cureus, Cureus, Inc., May 2019, https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.4736.
- Success TMS. “TMS Therapy for PTSD | Success TMS Depression Treatment.” Success TMS, Success TMS, 2 Mar. 2020, successtms.com/tms-for-ptsd
- Friedman, Matthew J., et al. “Randomized, Double-Blind Comparison of Sertraline and Placebo for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a Department of Veterans Affairs Setting.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 68, no. 05, Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc, May 2007, pp. 711–20. https://doi.org/10.4088/jcp.v68n0508.
- Hundt, Natalie E., et al. “A Systematic Review of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression in Veterans.” Military Medicine, vol. 179, no. 9, Oxford UP (OUP), Sept. 2014, pp. 942–49. https://doi.org/10.7205/milmed-d-14-00128.
- Madore, Michelle R., et al. “Prefrontal Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression in US Military Veterans – a Naturalistic Cohort Study in the Veterans Health Administration.” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 297, Elsevier BV, Jan. 2022, pp. 671–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.10.025.
- 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.
- “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.” TRICARE, Department of Defense, 20 Mar. 2022, www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/IsItCovered/TranscranialMagneticStimulation
- “About Us.” TRICARE, 2018, https://www.tricare.mil/About
- “Find a Military Hospital or Clinic.” TRICARE, 2022, https://www.tricare.mil/mtf?country=-1&state=46&pageNo=1&pageSize=5&view=mapx
- Porter, Robert. “What Does TMS Therapy Cost? TMS Information | BetterHelp Advice.” Betterhelp, BetterHelp, 20 Apr. 2022, www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-much-does-tms-therapy-cost
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.