How Much Does TMS Therapy Cost?

Updated October 7, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Depression can have a huge impact on your life, even with therapy. Though psychiatry offers many treatment options for people with depression– medications, neurofeedback, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sometimes those options don’t work. Treatment effectiveness will vary depending on the condition, severity, and patient in question. Therefore, for some people, TMS therapy can be a good option, especially those who live with severe major depressive disorder or treatment resistant depression. Read to learn more about the cost of TMS therapy and the course of treatment itself.

Have Questions About TMS Therapy?

TMS can be an option for people who live with depression so severe that standard treatments are not effective. These people may find it difficult to get through the day and enjoy interactions with friends and families. Many people who live with depression wind up taking anti-depressant medication. Therapy is also an important part of treating all types of depression

What Is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, also known as TMS therapy, is a procedure that is used to treat depression when nothing else works. TMS is a non-invasive procedure that makes use of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the human brain. Pulses of magnetic stimulation have been found to improve the symptoms of depression. TMS therapy is not a treatment needed by everyone who lives with depression, but it can help when other treatments have not been effective.

If you're living with severe depression and have not been able to find relief using conventional treatments like therapy, TMS could work for you. It can be very disheartening to feel like your depression will never end. But remember that you're not alone. Depression impacts many people; 7.1 percent of the US population experiences a major depressive disorder, so you shouldn't hesitate to reach out for help.

Therapy and antidepressants work for many people, but they're not the right solution for everyone. That's when many people consider the option of TMS therapy. TMS therapy is designed for patients living with conditions that have not responded to other treatments. It usually comes up as an option after spending months or years in psychotherapy or taking antidepressants. It is often not considered a first treatment and is primarily used when it is clear that a patient has treatment resistant depression.

Even though the TMS therapy cost tends to be high, it has gained popularity for its effectiveness as another solution when nothing else has worked. Therefore, for many, the cost is worth the price.

If you’re interested in TMS treatment, then talk to a mental health professional to see if you meet the FDA clearances to receive it and then contact a center or clinic that offers the treatment, such as the TMS & Brain Health center in Santa Monica.

Success Rate

The TMS therapy success rate is high. Many patients who have undergone TMS treatments have been able to enjoy a success rate of 58%. Also, 37% of all patients have experienced a complete cessation of their depressive symptoms. TMS therapy has proven to be an effective option for most patients who have not been able to find relief through traditional means or are experiencing treatment-resistant depression.

Some people who undergo TMS therapy experience immediate relief from their depressive symptoms. Others will feel relief in the coming weeks after having the treatment. It should be noted that patients usually undergo a series of these TMS therapy treatments. Patients will go to their doctor to receive TMS therapy for a predetermined period. Some treatments may involve receiving TMS therapy multiple days per week for several weeks in a row.

It’s also important to note that more and more studies are showing that TMS is an effective treatment for other conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Therefore, if you are living with these conditions and nothing else has worked, you can discuss this treatment option with your mental health professional.

The TMS therapy treatments themselves are generally very easy to get through. Patients will be sitting in a comfortable chair and will be able to wear earplugs while the TMS course of treatment is going on. The procedure should take around 40 minutes to complete. You will be awake and alert the entire time, and you should feel only minor scalp discomfort during a TMS therapy session.

Is TMS FDA Cleared?

For many patients, knowing whether or not TMS is FDA approved is essential before starting treatment. The good news is that this treatment is FDA approved for major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

However, if you are recommended TMS for another condition, the treatment may not be FDA approved for that particular condition. Therefore, it is important to discuss with a mental health professional and do some research to see if TMS is an effective treatment for your condition and is also FDA approved to treat it.

Also note that if you plan to pay for TMS with insurance, your provider may only offer coverage for TMS treatment that is FDA approved to treat certain conditions. So even if your mental health professional gives you the green light to use TMS, your insurance may not be keen to pay if the treatment is not FDA approved to help your condition.

Getting Ready for TMS

To prepare for TMS therapy, you will need to undergo a physical examination and a psychological evaluation. Not everyone is well-suited for TMS therapy treatments, so your doctor will want to make sure it's a safe and effective option for you.

People who have certain types of medical implants will not be able to participate in TMS therapy treatment. Some metal implants or devices can cause problems when they interact with magnetic fields. If you have stents, implanted stimulators, a pacemaker, a medication pump, cochlear implants, or even bullet fragments in your body, you may not be eligible for TMS therapy. It's important to speak to your doctor about these items before moving forward, so you do not have any complications from TMS therapy.

In addition, TMS therapy is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions. Those who have a history of seizures and people who live with bipolar disorder should not consider TMS therapy as an option to treat their depression. It's also not recommended for pregnant women. Finally, tell your doctor if you're taking any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, supplements, or vitamins. They will need to meticulously ensure that TMS therapy is safe for you, based on anything you may be ingesting regularly.

How Much Does TMS Cost?

For some people, TMS therapy may be cost-prohibitive. Though many health care providers offer a free consultation, sessions of TMS cost between $400 and $500. Given that most people need a series of TMS therapy sessions to see proper results, the total cost of TMS therapy could be around $15,000. As such, TMS therapy is a viable option for some, but it's far out of reach for others, based on the overall cost.

Because TMS therapy has been proven to be effective for a number of mental health conditions, some major insurance companies for a number of mental health conditions, cover the cost of treatments but some will not, leaving the total cost up to you. Furthermore, the amount of coverage will vary depending on the insurance plan that you have. For example, Medicare is beginning to cover TMS costs, but the exact coverage depends on the insurance plan you have. And some insurance companies have restrictions on who is covered for TMS treatment. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers coverage for TMS treatment, but only for adult patients who have not found success with therapy or antidepressants.

Therefore, right now, not everyone is covered for TMS treatment by insurance. Therefore, before proceeding with TMS, check with your mental health professional and insurance company to see if you are covered before proceeding. Hopefully, coverage options will increase as TMS therapy becomes more popular in the future, lowering the cost for millions of people.

Are There Risks Of Using TMS?

TMS therapy is considered to be very safe. It is non-invasive, and there is little discomfort during the treatment process. A patient can also remain awake during the entire 40-minute session.

However, there may be some side effects to consider. Some TMS therapy patients experience headaches due to the magnetic pulses. Others have reported feeling lightheaded after receiving these treatments. Spasms, muscle twitches, and tingling sensations are also possible side effects of TMS therapy.

It should also be noted that this may not be a good treatment for people who have bipolar disorder. One of the rare side effects of TMS therapy is that it can induce periods of mania in people who are bipolar. Other unusual TMS therapy side effects include seizures and possible hearing loss. 

However, don’t let this section discourage you. As always, it’s important to discuss treatment options with a mental health professional before making an informed decision. Even if TMS is not a good fit, the good thing is that psychiatry offers many other treatment options (such as antidepressants or other medications) that may help your condition.

Will Insurance Cover The Cost Of TMS Therapy?

After reading about the cost of TMS therapy, you may be wondering how to pay the cost for the course of treatment or if there is insurance coverage available. Like many other forms of therapy, many major insurance companies cover the cost of TMS therapy. Since this is an FDA approved course of treatment, many companies offer some sort of insurance coverage to help with the cost.  However, there are many factors involved including which insurance provider you have, which healthcare provider you use (and if they are in-network), what illness you are looking to treat, and the details of your insurance coverage.

First, let’s discuss some particular insurance providers. Though every insurance provider offers coverage for mental health services, not all insurance coverage is the same. Some great insurance providers and plans may completely cover the cost of TMS therapy, especially if you have already hit your deductible. Other insurance providers may cover the cost of limited mental health services which do not include TMS.

Medicare is one provider that is increasing its insurance coverage for TMS therapy as more and more studies show its effectiveness. However, as with other insurance companies, how much Medicare covers this cost depends on the particular Medicare insurance policy you choose.

Another insurance company that offers TMS therapy coverage is Blue Cross Blue Shield but has an entire medical policy on when it is covered and when it is not. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers coverage for TMS therapy but typically only covers the cost for adult patients suffering from major depression (or treatment-resistant depression) and who have already tried other treatments such as prescription medications.

This brings us to the next point that insurance companies often only cover TMS therapy for specific conditions. As mentioned above with Blue Cross Blue Shield, many insurance providers will only cover the cost of TMS for any patient living with major depression and who meet other criteria. However, TMS has been an effective treatment for many other conditions. For example, TMS therapy has been shown to improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Nevertheless, some insurance providers may not cover the cost of TMS treatments for these particular conditions, so you will have to pay the cost out of pocket if you choose to try TMS for these uncovered conditions.

Furthermore, your coverage also depends on the doctor you work with. Many doctors only work with particular major insurance companies or only offer TMS therapy through private pay. So even if your insurance or Medicare covers TMS therapy, your current doctor may not accept them.

If you have Medicare or Blue Cross Blue Shield, you may have coverage, but if you have any other insurance provider, you will need to read the details of your policy to figure out if TMS is covered.

Should I Consider Other Therapies?

Before you consider TMS therapy, you should consider other therapies, including talk therapy and medication. In addition to being very expensive, TMS therapy is only used to treat severe cases of depression, so it will only be used if other treatments have failed. TMS therapy is a safe method, but it is not for everyone.

This could change over time as technology evolves and we understand how TMS therapy works and its requirements for improving depression in more detail. For now, this is a somewhat niche therapy that has the potential to help many people. TMS therapy may not be the most common therapy for depression, but TMS therapy is an important solution for those who have not been able to find relief with traditional methods.

It's also possible to try to improve your depression by exercising more frequently. Exercise releases positive endorphins in the body, and it can act as a natural antidepressant. (Of course, if you're looking into TMS therapy, solutions like this have likely not been effective for you.)

ECT treatment, also known as electroconvulsive therapy, is another option for those who are living with severe forms of depression. It allows for molecular changes that encourage better communication between neurons in a specific region of the brain. Similar to TMS therapy, ECT is another option that people turn to when other treatment methods have not been successful.

So yes, it’s important to consider other treatments before jumping to TMS. Many treatment options have a much lower cost, making treatment and support more available to those who need it. Furthermore, these treatments have a long history of success and effectiveness, which means their cost may be more likely to be covered by insurance.

Have Questions About TMS Therapy?

Try Online Counseling Sessions

If you need help finding relief for your depression symptoms, and hear professional advice from a mental health professional but are looking for lower cost yet effective options, then consider online therapy. Depression is a difficult burden to bear, and you should not have to face it alone. If you participate in online therapy, you will never have to deal with a bad day all by yourself. A dedicated online therapist can be there for you whenever you need support without even having to leave your place. Online therapy has helped many people to get through bouts of depression, and it might be the cost-effective therapy solution that you're looking for.

Remember that you can sign up for online therapy today, and you can reach out at any time via text message or schedule phone or video sessions to talk with your therapist without having to commute to their office. The therapy experts at BetterHelp will be happy to assist you with your needs, so you can get your depression symptoms under control at an affordable cost. Below, you'll see some BetterHelp reviews from others seeking help with depression.

Counselor Reviews

"Tamera is straightforward and supportive. She's not afraid of pointing out what to work on and giving you the right tools immediately. It is highly personalized just for your unique symptoms and situation! Tamera helped me manage my depression and anxiety and I became more empowered to have more control in my life. I feel a lot happier."

"Lisa is amazing! I am so lucky to have matched with her on my first time using the app. She is super available and quick to respond. Her style feels like you're talking to a friend more than being in super professional typesetting which can be overwhelming for someone who already has depression/anxiety / etc. I would and have recommended her to anyone and everyone."

Parting Thoughts / Conclusion: TMS Therapy

TMS therapy isn't a practical option for everyone, but it's a good solution for those who are still experiencing depression after receiving traditional therapy treatments. Sessions of TMS cost a lot of money and require that you commit to a specific timeframe of treatment, but TMS therapy results have been positive for people with the most severe forms of depression. With the right tools, you can overcome your depression, too. Take the first step today.

Wondering More About TMS?

If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you and how much it will cost you, please reach out to us at contact@betterhelp.com. BetterHelp specializes in online therapy at an affordable cost to help address all types of mental health challenges.

Are there risks involved with TMS therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is considered to be very safe. It is noninvasive, and there is little discomfort during the treatment process. TMS patients can also remain awake during the entire 40-minute session.

However, TMS services have some side effects to consider. Some patients experience headaches due to the magnetic pulses. Others have reported feeling lightheaded after receiving these TMS therapy treatments. Spasms, muscle twitches, and tingling sensations are also possible TMS therapy side effects.

It should also be noted that TMS therapy may not be a good treatment for people who have bipolar disorder. One of the rare side effects of TMS therapy is that it can induce periods of mania in people who are bipolar. Other unusual TMS therapy side effects include seizures and possible hearing loss. 

Is TMS therapy worth the trouble? How much does TMS therapy cost? What is the overall TMS therapy cost?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is certainly worth looking into if you do not respond to more traditional routes of depression treatment. Although TMS therapy does not function as a miraculous cure for all symptoms of depression, ongoing studies do suggest that TMS therapy is a low-risk, non-invasive source of treatment and can be a wonderful option to explore for people who are unable to find relief via standard therapies. TMS therapy can also be helpful for individuals who do not feel safe or comfortable utilizing talk therapy, as TMS therapy does not require the same amount of vulnerability or discussion that talk-based therapies do.

While it has a high cost, TMS therapy can also prove helpful for individuals who experience intense side effects on regular antidepressant medication. While not all antidepressants possess dramatic risk favors, several of the most popular options do run the risk of significant side effects, which can include increased feelings of depression and consideration of self-harm. The possible side effects of TMS therapy are mild and typically dissipate quickly. While it is not common to experience dramatic side effects of common medications, a history of antidepressant use and subsequent unpleasant side effects could prompt an individual to seek out a qualified TMS practitioner.

So how much does TMS cost? Sessions of TMS cost between $400 and $500 each. Given that most people need a series of TMS therapy sessions to see proper results, the total cost of TMS therapy could be around $15,000. As such, TMS therapy is a viable option for some, but it's far out of reach for others, based on the overall cost.

While TMS therapy might not be a treatment for everyone, TMS therapy has shown immense promise in its field and has given researchers some hope for establishing useful, effective treatments for mental disorders using biological alterations to the brain. While it has not shown any sort of application for other mental health ailments, TMS therapy could be a great option for people trying to seek out alternatives to the tried-and-true methods of depression treatment, despite the high cost of TMS therapy.

However, if you are worried about the cost, you should see if your insurance policy covers the treatment. Some major insurance companies cover the cost of TMS depending on the specific policy and the patient in question. Since TMS is meant to be a treatment for those who did not respond to psychotherapy and antidepressants, proof of the failure of these treatment options may be required for coverage. Also, keep in mind that this treatment is only FDA-approved for certain conditions, so your insurance policy may not cover the cost of treatment for any condition that has not been approved for TMS treatment by the FDA.

Even if your insurance coverage does not fully cover the cost of TMS therapy, it may still cover at least part of the cost, making it a more viable option to pay for.

How much does a TMS unit cost?

If you look up the cost of TMS machines, you will see that they typically cost a few thousand dollars. Depending on your insurance coverage and the number of TMS sessions you are recommended, perhaps purchasing a machine may or may not actually be cheaper than the actual cost of TMS therapy.

After reading about the effectiveness of TMS therapy, you may be interested in paying for TMS machines or devices for yourself especially if you don’t want to pay for the cost of TMS therapy or deal with your insurance company. However, it is not recommended that you pay for TMS machines yourself. Not only are these machines highly expensive, but TMS is an effective treatment option when done properly, so the treatment should be conducted or supervised by doctors or mental health professional specialized in psychiatry. If you operate a machine yourself without prior knowledge or licensing, you may experience side effects or negatively affect your brain.

Is TMS better than antidepressants?

The success rates of TMS therapy over antidepressants vary depending on the patient in question. TMS is typically offered as a treatment option after therapy and antidepressants have not worked. This doesn’t necessarily mean TMS has a better success rate; it just means that the patient is very likely experiencing treatment-resistant depression or another condition.

Furthermore, just because one prescription or brand of antidepressants didn’t work, doesn’t mean that another brand or dosage won’t work either. If you are not seeing results with your antidepressants, then consider talking with your psychiatrist about your dosage or brand options before deciding on a different treatment option.

In fact, many patients become better through the use of antidepressants so they should not be dismissed as a treatment option. If you are just starting to seek treatment for depression or other conditions, then you should talk to your mental health professional about multiple treatment options.

Can TMS damage your brain?

No, TMS does not damage the brain. However, that does not mean there aren’t side effects or that the TMS course of treatment is safe for everyone. Some of the common side effects of TMS treatment are:

  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Scalp pain
  • Facial twitching
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Neck pain

There are also some patients who should avoid TMS treatment, including patients who have:

  • deep brain stimulators
  • electrodes
  • neck or brain stents
  • aneurysm clips or coils
  • shrapnel or bullet pieces
  • facial tattoos with metallic ink
  • metal plates
  • cochlear implants
  • permanent piercings

The reason why people with these conditions cannot use TMS treatments is that they have metal near or in their heads. The metal may interact with TMS machines and may cause an unsafe reaction.

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