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New TRICARE Coverage of Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

5/25/2016

TRICARE recently announced coverage of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as a treatment for major depressive disorder. TMS is used when other depression treatments have not been effective.   

Research shows that only half of the patients treated for depressive disorder with medication and talk therapy achieve any success. Consequently, there is a need to try an alternative treatment like TMS. During a treatment, an electromagnetic coil is place against the patient’s scalp. The coil delivers a magnetic pulse through the skull, inducing a low level electric current. The patient receives multiple pulses over several seconds, with each treatment session lasting about 40 minutes.   

TMS is non-invasive and treatments are typically done in an outpatient setting without anesthesia.  The electromagnetic pulse stimulates nerve cells in the region of the brain that controls mood and depression. Because treatment is typically repetitive, you may hear the treatment called repetitive TMS or rTMS. 

This new benefit is effective May 24, 2016 and is not a part of a pilot or demonstration program but a part of the basic TRICARE benefit. For more information, visit the TRICARE website. 

Last Updated 1/17/2017