TMS and Neuromodulation Program

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that has been approved to treat major depression. It is a treatment consideration for anyone whose depression has not responded to prior antidepressant medication. TMS has also been used successfully in obsessive-compulsive disorder and is being explored as a treatment for other disorders including chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and addiction.

TMS is delivered in an outpatient setting at the Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building in San Francisco. As a combined research and clinical service, the UCSF TMS and Neuromodulation Program is committed to providing leading-edge innovative care.

How TMS works

TMS generates brief magnetic pulses that deliver precisely targeted therapy to parts of the brain that are under- or over-active in patients with depression.

It is a well-tolerated procedure with few side effects. The most common side effects are scalp irritation underneath the magnet and mild headache. TMS does not require anesthesia and does not impair your memory or thinking. In fact, TMS may deliver antidepressant treatment while avoiding side effects caused by many antidepressant medications.

What to expect

Treatment occurs daily, five times per week for about six weeks. Visits are approximately 45 minutes long. The treatment causes minimal disruption to patient’s daily routine. Patients can drive home or return to work immediately following the appointments.

Our TMS services

A referral from a psychiatrist is required. Once the referral is received, patients will receive a screening and informational phone call by our TMS team to review medication history and insurance information. A one-on-one psychiatric consultation with a psychiatrist who specializes in TMS will follow. If TMS is indicated, an individualized TMS treatment plan will be developed and treatment appointments will be scheduled.

Forms for providers

Forms for patients

Insurance coverage

TMS is generally covered by health insurance providers. However, not all providers will cover TMS treatments at UCSF and different providers may cover a different number of treatments. We will obtain insurance authorization prior to the beginning of treatment. If you choose to pay for treatment outside of your insurance, payment will be required at the time of service.

Other services offered through the clinic

Consultation for deep brain stimulation (DBS) for OCD and DBS programming is available. Referral from a board-certified psychiatrist is required. Providers should email Katherine Scangos and Moses Lee at [email protected].

Our team