Interest in therapeutic neuromodulation as a treatment for depression has been growing. Therapeutic neuromodulation includes electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), vagal nerve stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS refers to a procedure involving application of a magnetic field to a patient’s brain to treat depression. This entry provides an overview of the use of TMS in major depressive disorder (MDD) and other mental health disorders, discusses its scientific underpinnings, and describes the procedure for the application of TMS to treat depression.

Scientific Basis

The exact mechanism of action of TMS is unknown. Pulsed magnetic fields emanating from the TMS coil are thought to induce electrical current in the brain tissue directly beneath the coil. This current, in turn, causes direct depolarization, or activation, of nerve cells in the ...

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