NeuroStar TMS

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NeuroStar TMS

About NeuroStar® TMS Therapy

NeuroStar uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to target key areas of the brain that are underactive in people with depression. It is not ECT (electroconvulsive therapy).

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been used in psychiatry for years and is a noninvasive procedure, which Dr. Alva uses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms related to brain deterioration, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and PTSD.  TMS uses magnetic fields, there is no injection, or trauma to the patient. TMS is often used when other forms of treatment have proven to be ineffective.

While the exact cause of depression is not known, the leading scientific theory is that it is caused by an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells.

Take the first step to overcoming your depression today.

Treatment with NeuroStar Advanced Therapy is easy:

  • Therapy sessions are conducted in your NeuroStar doctor’s office
  • You can return to normal activities right away
  • You are awake during treatment
  • There are no negative effects on memory or sleep
  • It’s covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicare and Tricare
TMS is FDA approved for MDD and OCD
Off label uses can be considered for the following
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Nicotine Addiction
  • Autism Disorders
Other uses outside of Psychiatry may include:
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Chronic Pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis


sample pet scan
A PET scan measures vital functions such as blood flow, oxygen use and blood sugar (glucose) metabolism.

Source: Mark George, M.D. Biological Psychiatry Branch Division of Intramural Research Programs, NIMH 1993

NeuroStar® Therapy Insurance Coverage

Since the FDA clearance of TMS in 2008, insurance coverage for eligible patients has increased significantly. Currently, there are over 60 coverage policies for TMS, including most Medicare contractors. Although TMS is not a first line of treatment, it is an alternative option for those who are not responding to or cannot tolerate medications. Call us today to speak directly with a NeuroStar Coordinator about your specific insurance plan, coverage and eligibility. For a list of insurance companies that our practice accepts, click here.

NeuroStar Patient – Mariah’s Story

NeuroStar Patient – Bart’s Story

NeuroStar Patient – Todd’s Story

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Orange County TMS Questions

Questions you may have

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS is typically used when other treatments haven’t been effective or if a patient is seeking an alternative form of treatment.

Psychiatrists often diagnose symptoms and treat patients with medication and psychotherapy. An alternative treatment is TMS. TMS may be used to treat:

  • Anxiety disorders, such as OCD
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Nicotine Addiction
  • Autism Disorders

Other uses outside of Psychiatry may include:

  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Chronic Pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Medication and Psychotherapy are often the first steps a psychiatrist uses in treating a patient. However, a psychiatrist may suggest TMS upon a full evaluation and usually after several sessions. Some patients may have years of medication use and ask to try something different.

TMS changes neuronal activity in parts of the brain which involve mood regulation (prefrontal cortex). A magnetic pulse goes through the skull (into the brain), which induces activity of brain cells. Activity may be increased or decreased. Stimulating one side versus another side would have an opposite effect in regulation of moods.

Patients are asked to remove jewelry or magnetic-sensitive items and may be given earplugs (the machine makes clicking sounds similar to an MRI machine).

The first session takes multiple measurements to make sure the TMS coil is placed in the correct location. The TMS coil is then attached to the patients forehead. Brief pulses are used to motor threshold (the minimum power to cause a patient’s thumb to twitch.

The session begins with clicking sounds and a “tapping sensation” under the TMS coil. The patient is closely monitored and adjustments may be made as the patient progresses.

TMS sessions are only prescribed by a psychiatrist or medical provider with extensive use of TMS. A technician may perform TMS treatment under the direct supervision of a psychiatrist.

The initial session may take up to an hour. Follow up sessions are usually 30-40 minutes and may be done 1-5 days per week. TMS treatment usually lasts for 4-6 weeks.

No, TMS treatments do not require anesthesia, you will be awake and aware of the process. Patients do not need recovery time – you are safe to continue your normal routine afterwards.

In clinical trials, fewer than 5% of people discontinued treatment due to adverse events. The most common side effect was temporary pain or discomfort at or near the treatment site during therapy that usually resolved within the first week of treatment.
Other side effects (occurring in ≥5% of people and twice the rate of placebo) included eye pain, toothache, muscle twitch, facial pain, and pain of the skin.
There is a rare risk of seizure associated with TMS therapy that occurs in <0.1% of people. There is no adverse effect on cognition.
People should notify their doctor if they experience worsening depression symptoms, signs, or symptoms of suicidal behavior and/or unusual behavior. Family members and support individuals should also be aware of the need to observe their loved ones and notify their treatment provider if symptoms worsen.
NeuroStar Advanced Therapy should not be used with people who have non-removable conductive metal or stimulator implants in or near the head or people who have active or inactive implants such as deep brain stimulators, cochlear implants, and vagus nerve stimulators.

We do not utilize TMS on patients who have:

  • Metal in their head (plates)
  • Aneuryms clips/coils
  • Neck or brain stents
  • Stimulators placed deep in the brain
  • Electrodes which measure brain activity
  • Metal implants in eyes or ears
  • Bullet fragments (Shrapnel) in/near the head
  • Tattoos on the face utilizing metallic or magnet sensitive ink

The use of magnets to treat mental health patients has been utilized for over 100 years, TMS itself was developed in the 1980s. The FDA approves the technique for treating multiple disorders and mental health symptoms.

Dr. Alva and the team of medical professionals at PNS have utilized TMS for more than 10 years and have utilized TMS on thousands of patients. Our facility is widely regarded as the leading TMS treatment provider in Orange County, CA. NeuroStar machines have treated over 2.5 million patients.

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