TRICARE recently announced it will cover transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a treatment for major depressive disorder. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is used when other depression treatments have not been effective. Only half the patients treated for major depressive disorder with medication and talk therapy show lasting results.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is noninvasive, and treatments are typically outpatient, not requiring anesthesia. An electromagnetic coil placed against the scalp delivers a magnetic pulse through the skull, inducing a low-level current. The patient receives multiple pulses over several seconds. The electrical pulses stimulate nerve cells in the region of the brain that controls mood and depression. Each treatment session lasts about 40 minutes.
The new benefit is effective now. It is not part of a pilot or demonstration program but is part of the basic TRICARE benefit.