When Does TMS Start Working and Does It Last?

Oct 02, 2023 by Erin Thomson

When someone is experiencing symptoms of severe treatment-resistant depression, it might seem like there is nowhere to turn for relief. People with major depressive disorder may try medication trials and psychotherapy but don’t always get the results they are hoping for.  

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can be a new opportunity to experience significant symptom relief for people living with depression. The therapy is a highly effective and non-invasive procedure, with some patients experiencing symptom improvements in only a few weeks. A significant number of our patients at PrairieCare have achieved complete remission from depression and we continue to see how life-improving this innovative technology can be at our two TMS clinics. We have administered over 200,000 TMS treatments in the Twin Cities and we continue to witness the outcomes our patients have on a daily basis.  


How Long Does TMS Take to Work?

On average, TMS patients will start to feel noticeable changes in their symptoms after a couple of weeks. The results of TMS therapy can vary from patient to patient as each treatment plan is shaped around the individual and the symptoms they are experiencing. Some patients may report improvements after a few weeks, while some results may take five weeks.  

Like other treatment options for managing mental illness, the timing of results and the extent of relief can vary. Our experienced TMS team works alongside you and can help you identify signs of improvement in your depression symptoms. We also have patients who use medication with their TMS treatment and therapy, which can help maximize the symptom relief a patient can experience.

How Many Sessions are Needed for TMS to Relieve Symptoms of Depression?

We recommend that all TMS patients follow a full treatment plan for the best outcomes. A full course of treatment consists of 36–37 sessions, multiple times a week, over 8-12 weeks. Each session takes about 20 minutes and you are able to continue with your daily activities right after.  

Patients typically start to feel signs of symptom relief after a few weeks, but the full outcomes can’t be considered until the full regimen has been completed. If a patient does not follow the recommended plan, results may occur slower or eliminate the potential relief the patient could have experienced. Following your treatment plan is vital to successful outcomes for all patients. 

Refer to the PrairieCare TMS Road Map to understand the average treatment course. Each patient’s plan may vary based on their individual needs.


What Are the Initial Signs That TMS Therapy is Working?

The initial signs that TMS is relieving depression symptoms will vary from patient to patient. The signs may start small, but the results can truly be life-improving at the end of a treatment plan. After administering over 200,000 TMS treatments, our TMS clinical team has been able to collect common signs that the treatment is beginning to work for the patient. 

Common signs of improvement in depression symptoms include:  

  • Sense of humor starts to return in daily life.  
  • Improve the ability to manage and accomplish daily tasks that are important to life. 
  • Brighter and more hopeful overall mood. 
  • Being more present and the ability to be in the moment.  
  • Activities and hobbies become enjoyable or discovering new things that bring joy.  \Increased amount of energy in daily life.  

Some patients can feel signs of improvement quicker than others, but even if it takes longer to experience symptom relief, it does not mean the treatment is ineffective or unhelpful. Throughout the TMS treatment, our psychiatrists guide patient progress and manage any treatment changes to support the needs of the patient. This can include medication management, psychotherapy, and program support.

How Long Does TMS Therapy Last?

Before starting treatment, knowing the longevity of TMS outcomes can be part of the decision-making process. The remission length from depression can vary for each patient depending on their mental health needs. According to a clinical study, among people who responded to TMS initially, two-thirds continued to experience improvements after three months, and about half were still doing well after a year. 

TMS is a highly effective and often positive experience for many people with depression. Based on PrairieCare’s clinical results, more than half of TMS patients experience a 50 percent reduction in symptoms. A significant number of patients achieve complete remission from depression. Our experts encourage patients to continue meeting with their primary psychiatrist after therapy completion to guide their progress and discuss refreshment if depression symptoms return.  


Is TMS the Right Fit for Me?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation can offer life-improving results for people living with depression. The non-invasive procedure can be a new opportunity for someone who has tried multiple medications and psychotherapy. TMS is worth discussing with a mental health professional based on the high success rate and insurance coverage for treating major depressive disorder.  

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is FDA-approved and is a safe option for people with depression. Unlike medications that can have full-body effects, TMS focuses on the brain and the root of the mental illness. Some patients report the procedure is uncomfortable at times, but these feelings are often eliminated after the first couple of sessions. Our team works with you to find ways to be comfortable throughout the therapy. In general, TMS is a well-tolerated option to alleviate depression symptoms.  

To start transcranial magnetic stimulation at PrairieCare, patients must have all the following qualifications to be eligible for therapy: 

  • Are 18 years or older  
  • Have a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) that is recurrent and severe 
  • Have completed a sufficient course of evidence-based psychotherapy  
  • Have tried four medications from two different classes without improvement, including medication augmentation trials  
  • Were referred by a primary psychiatrist  


Interested in TMS Treatment? Contact Our Team

We understand you may have questions before taking the first step toward TMS therapy. Our team offers a free consultation with our experienced care team.  


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PrairieCare’s Minnesota TMS Locations


We offer convenient locations for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Edina and Woodbury. Patients in TMS therapy will meet with their treatment team and a psychiatrist on a regular basis. Each location has a dedicated psychiatrist who will oversee the treatment plan.  


About PrairieCare

At PrairieCare, we believe that mental illness is real, common, and treatable. We provide individuals of all ages with the psychiatric care they truly need. PrairieCare is one of the nation’s largest providers of premier psychiatric services to the Twin Cities metro area, Rochester, and Mankato. Our programs and services span the full continuum of care, knowing that each patient has their own unique experiences, life stages, and set of needs.   

Whether a patient needs perinatal psychiatric care or manages anxiety in school, our clinicians are accredited and trained to help. We support patients during their time with us and create sustainable outcomes for them to reach their goals.  

Learn about our full continuum services. 

Visit our blog for content on all things mental health related.

Mental Health Challenges Don’t Take a Holiday
10 Benefits of TMS for People with Depression
The Top 10 Reasons Why PrairieCare Is a Great Place to Work