In early sessions with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), patients are finding success with this newly FDA-approved treatment.

TMS works by using electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerves in the brain that control moods. The treatment, which usually takes a little more than a month, can improve symptoms of depression without causing the side effects often associated with medication and shock therapy.

Treatment is localized in TMS. A magnetic coil is placed on the forehead near the hairline for between 30 minutes and an hour. Some patients feel discomfort during the treatment, but serious side effects are rare. Patients often see a counselor during and after their course of treatment, even if their symptoms improve or disappear.

The FDA approved TMS in 2010, and practices are reporting that some patients who receive the treatment are in remission or are free from symptoms of depression. People suffering from depression who are interested in the treatment can be referred to a center that administers TMS or contact the center directly.

Researchers say TMS could be effective in treating other medical issues such as anxiety disorder and chronic pain.

About the author: Psychiatrist Wanda Gobin, D.O., has been certified to conduct transcranial magnetic stimulation by the Harvard Medical School program at the Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation.