TMS is a Drug-Free Treatment for Depression

If you’re searching for a treatment for depression that does not require antidepressant medications, consider transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy (TMS). TMS is a 100% drug-free method of treating the symptoms of depression, where treatment is delivered via safe magnetic pulses to the brain during brief 19-minute sessions over a period of 9 weeks.

TMS has been FDA-approved for the treatment of major depression since 2008, and is covered by almost all major insurance providers in New York.

Are Natural/Holistic Treatments for Depression Effective?

At Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry, we understand our patients’ hesitation toward antidepressant medications. But with most holistic or “natural” treatments for depression, there’s little to no scientific evidence that the treatment can effectively control depression symptoms or help patients achieve remission.

Some common natural/holistic treatments for depression include:

  • Vitamins (such as folic acid or SAMe): There’s some evidence that vitamin therapy can help relieve the symptoms of depression, but study results are inconsistent, and the effects appear to be mostly minimal.1
  • St. John’s wort: This is an herbal supplement that might be effective in treating mild depression according to a few studies, but it is mostly unproven and not FDA-approved. Most psychiatrists would not recommend replacing a proven-effective treatment, like talk therapy or TMS, with St. John’s wort.
  • Exercise: Exercise can be effective at elevating a patient’s mood, but the effect is mostly temporary. Most patients will not be able to achieve remission from depression through exercise alone.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine where needles are placed at specific points on the body, which is thought to bring balance to the body’s energies and stimulate blood flow. Though “self-care” activities may help elevate mood, there is no scientific evidence to prove that acupuncture is effective on its own for treating depression.

None of these treatments are FDA-approved, whereas TMS has been approved by the FDA to treat depression since 2008.

TMS is Proven Effective in 30+ Clinical Trials, With No Medication Necessary

TMS has been proven effective in over 30 clinical trials with 2,000 patients. People treated with TMS were 2-4 times more likely to achieve remission from depression symptoms, compared to people treated with antidepressants alone.2

62.5% of people treated with TMS who experienced relief continued to show improvement after one year.3 See more studies on the effectiveness of TMS.

Benefits of TMS for Patients Seeking a Natural Treatment for Depression

Patients who undergo TMS are not required to take any medications during or after their course of treatment. TMS can be performed on its own, or in conjunction with other depression therapies, including talk therapy or other holistic/natural treatments (like exercise, vitamins, or solar lamp therapy).

How Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work?

During treatment, a coil placed over the head sends magnetic currents through the scalp and skull to activate neurons in areas of the brain that are believed to be in control of mood regulation. The patient can come unaccompanied and drive or return to work immediately after treatment, and there is no need for anesthesia.

Side effects reported after treatment are minimal, with most patients only experiencing minor discomfort, typically in the form of a mild headache.

Am I A Candidate for TMS?

TMS is safe for most people, including pregnant women, and is ideal for people who prefer not to take medication for depression. It’s not safe for people with a history of seizures, or for people with any type of metal implant within the head. Take our quiz to learn whether you’re a candidate for TMS.


Learn More About TMS

Read more about TMS therapy on our website, or contact us online to ask a question.


1- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-integrationist/201310/depression-wont-go-away-folate-could-be-the-answer
George MS et al. Daily Left Prefrontal Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy for Major

2- Depressive Disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(5):507-16.
3- Dunner DL et al. A multisite, naturalistic, observational study of transcranial magnetic stimulation for patients with pharmacoresistant major depressive disorder: durability of benefit over a 1-year follow-up period. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014;75(12):1394-401.