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TMS therapy demonstrated on 'Dr. Oz'

March 16, 2012
by Nick Zubko, Associate Editor
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For the second time this year, an episode of the “Dr. Oz Show” has introduced viewers to one of the more “unconventional” methods used to treat depression. Wednesday’s show featured a segment on a therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

While Dr. Oz called TMS therapy “controversial and unorthodox," he also said it was "revolutionary.”

“I believe this could be an effective treatment,” he said, later asking why “every psychiatrist in the country” is not thinking about this for their patients. 

You can watch the segment from the show here.

Dr. Oz welcomed expert guest Tarique Perera, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, to demonstrate the technique using the NeuroStar TMS system, a device made by Neuronetics and approved by the FDA in 2008.

The audience then got a simple explanation of how TMS works. Essentially, it delivers highly focused magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in an area of the brain linked to depression. According to Perera, the therapy offers “the first biological treatment” for depression.

“We are able to treat the brain just like you would treat the heart,” he said. “It’s a paradigm shift in psychiatry.”

Across the country, more facilities are giving their patients a chance to try TMS. Last year, we reported on a few dedicated facilities, including examples on the West Coast in Los Angeles and San Francisco, plus another in Tyson's Corner, Va.

To a lesser extent, community mental health centers (like this one in New Hampshire) have also decided to make the investment.

What do you think? Did Dr. Oz present an accurate picture of what TMS can do? If you have had experience with TMS therapy, let us know what your impressions have been so far. 



Since TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) is reportedly an effective treatment for depression, yielding long-term or even permanent relief, it is important that information about facilities which perform TMS is made readily and widely available. This blog article notes four (4) sites - 2 in CA, 1 in VA, & 1 in NH. Perhaps we could use this form to collectively put together a list of all facilities offering TMS?
Also, what types of insurance, if any, have(complete or partial)
coverage for TMS? And is there a financial case for expansion of coverage under private +/or public insurance/plans?

There are currently about 400 TMS centers in the United States alone.
It is important that TMS be made widely available and it is all about individuals and healthcare providers alike to get the name out there.
Dr. Perera spoke about the insurance coverage. It is on a case by case basis and by state. Often coverage is achieved after an appeal is made. However..coverage is getting better and Medicare is coming on board. Please go to for more information about TMS therapy and to find a healthcare provider near you.

I think if each state had their own Health care reform plan there still would have to be grzeealined rules/procedures for all across the states. Otherwise you would have people moving to other states to get into the best plan they thought fit their families particular health needs and fiances. (thus where the follow-up question you asked comes in)So in that aspect I don't think it would work as efficient as having a Government plan where it is the same across the whole US.ORMaybe there should be some type of Healthcare reform where it is mandated strictly for the Health Insurances carriers that we already have. It seems they should be regulated more on making affordable pay scales for various types of income with better and more flexible coverage and payment plans. Private Insurance carriers are owned by individuals and corporations, they are in the business to make money as that is their business just like any other business they want to make a profit. It is not about healthcare it is a business nothing more and nothing less. In otherwords make it more structured and competitive so that new Insurance carriers can come into the market thus giving more options on carriers for everyone in all types of income levels. Right now it is very limited to only a handfull of carriers that own the whole Healthcare Insurance Industry so yes in CONTROL of your health. They can and do deny procedures and healthcare services all the time this is nothing new.Health care cost would have to be regulated also as of now the sky is the limit on what they charge. If you have insurance they charge the Insurance company about 40% sometimes up to 70% less then what they charge a person who has no insurance for the same procedure. I know this as fact as a clinic once explained it to me and how it works if you have insurance and those that do not. They explained this to me in detail when they asked if I had insurance and I asked what does it matter if I do or if I don't as long as I pay the fees.So maybe if the Private insurance carriers and healthcare facilities, Pharmacies etc. had certain rules and payscales to follow then it might work otherwise I do not see it working if it was strickly state by state.The healtcare system is not working the way it is now and is out of control, this I think everyone can agree on, that something indeed needs to be done.

Dr. Perera's TMS may work for depression and I hope it can help, however, I recommend one not avail oneself of this treatment as treatment for migraine headaches. My daughter was treated once with TMS and has experienced worse headaches since that experience. Caveat emptor

Nick Zubko

Associate Editor

Nick Zubko


Nick Zubko is associate editor of Behavioral Healthcare.

The opinions expressed by Behavioral Healthcare Executive bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not meant to reflect the opinions of the publication.