Ask the expert: Cutting Edge Technology Treating Depression

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

By Kimberly Cress, M.D.
TMS Serenity Center

Kimberly Cress

Many people who struggle with depression now have an option that can help them lead a more productive and successful life – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).  TMS is a new alternative treatment for individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and Dr. Kimberly Cress, director of the TMS Serenity Center, is one of the first psychiatrists to offer this alternative technology in the greater Houston area.

With a 75% success rate with varying degrees of improvement, Dr. Cress’ patients are realizing remarkable progress with TMS which has been FDA approved for treatment of depression since October, 2008. “With TMS, I’ve been able to get patients to a place I’ve never been able to before with traditional therapies,” said Dr. Cress.  “I’ve seen real, tangible results from treating patients with this new technology.” New to the mental health industry, TMS was ranked by CNN as one of the top 10 health innovations of 2009.

How does TMS work?

TMS uses a magnet similar in strength to the one used in an MRI. It is placed on the left front portion of the head. This magnet turns on and off rapidly, generating a highly concentrated magnetic field.  The pulsed magnetic field stimulates nerve cells within the area of the brain thought to control mood. When these nerve cells are activated, they release chemicals (neurotransmitters) that are naturally found in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These are the same chemicals provided by antidepressant medications, but with TMS, there is not the risk of side effects seen in antidepressants. Individuals frequently stop medication due to side effects such as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, fatigue, sweating, anxiety and nausea compared to little to no side effects with TMS.

Does TMS work?

For nearly two years of providing TMS therapy, Dr. Cress has seen dramatic improvements in her patients.

After TMS therapy, Gail said, “I have had depression a number of years and have taken several different medications. Some did not work at all, some worked for awhile, and some did have an impact. However, none have had the impact that TMS has had. I no longer wake up in the morning wondering if I’ll be able to push myself enough to get one thing done or will it be another day of languishing around the house. Now, I wake up and plan what I’ll get done and what I will do for myself as a reward. I do not look at each day as just another one to get through.  I look at it as a new beginning. I am no longer a person just surviving my depression. I’m a happy person with the motivation to make a life for myself. That is what six weeks of TMS has given to me.”

Your TMS Resource

The TMS Serenity Center and Dr. Kimberly Cress is one of the first in the Greater Houston area to provide this alternative treatment for depression. For more information, please contact the TMS Serenity Center 281.240.4322 or visit

About Kimberly Cress, M.D.

With over eleven years in private practice in Psychiatry, Kimberly Cress, M.D. brings her extensive experience for difficult to treat mental illnesses to the TMS Serenity Center. A graduate from the University of Texas Health Science, San Antonio Medical School, Dr. Cress’ vast experiences includes treating patients with treatment refractory depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorders at the Mood Disorder Center at the Baylor College of Medicine. Now, at the TMS Serenity Center, Dr. Cress is once again at the forefront of her field bringing ground-breaking technology to her patients suffering from depression with TMS – an effective treatment option for individuals who have failed one antidepressant trial according to the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Cress has treated patients with TMS Therapy for nearly two years in addition to completing the Harvard Medical School’s Intensive Course in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.  She is an advisory board member for Texana, an organization that provides behavioral healthcare and developmental disabilities services, and she is a member of Mental Health Services of America of Fort Bend County.