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How TMS Helps Military Members & Dependents

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Blog

Military families face unique challenges that can deeply impact their mental health and well-being. These stressors can lead to mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, affecting not only service members and veterans but also their spouses and children. 

For some people, medication and other treatment options can provide some relief, but for others they can be ineffective or come with numerous side effects. For these people, TMS therapy has proven beneficial as a revolutionary new treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and related mood disorders. 

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is an FDA-approved procedure that can help relieve symptoms for those who haven’t found success through traditional therapies. This non-invasive treatment has shown promising results in providing long-term relief and success in treating depression and other mood disorders, including for veterans. 

In this guide, we look at how TMS helps military families. We’ll begin by exploring the unique mental health issues experienced by service members and their families, and then explain how TMS therapy can provide effective relief for these symptoms.

Mood disorders in military personnel & veterans 

Military service involves stressful situations and experiences that can significantly impact mental health. The intense demands of combat, extended periods away from home, and constant threat to personal safety all contribute to the development of mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Symptoms of mood disorders can include:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Intrusive memories
  • Social isolation
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive worrying
  • Emotional numbness
  • Quickened heart rate. 

These symptoms can be experienced by military personnel during or after their deployment, affecting their daily activities and even their relationships. Below, we’ll look more closely at three common mood disorders experienced by military service members: depression, PTSD, and anxiety.


Many service members and veterans suffer from depression, both during active duty and long after tours of duty are over. This can be caused by various factors, including difficulty coping with painful experiences or losses, distressing memories, suffering injury or losing friends, and feelings of guilt or regret about war experiences. 

Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. The sudden lack of structure and support during the transition from active duty to civilian life can exacerbate these symptoms. 

A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) study on depression estimates that:

  • Around 1 in 3 veterans show signs of depression 
  • 1 in 5 present serious enough symptoms to warrant a diagnostic evaluation
  • 1 in 8-10 veterans have major depressive disorder that requires treatment, such as antidepressants or talk therapy. 

Certain factors can increase the risk of depression in military personnel and veterans. These include: 

  • Suffering traumatic brain injury during combat
  • Being separated from their support network back home
  • Combat-related stressors
  • Substance abuse
  • Attacks that are physical or sexual in nature.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can be common amongst veterans who have experienced combat or traumatic events, including war zone deployment, training accidents, and military sexual trauma (or MST). Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic event. These symptoms can severely disrupt daily functioning and relationships. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs stats on PTSD in veterans:

  • Nearly 30% of people who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom experienced PTSD at some point in their lives
  • Around 20% of veterans of the Persian Gulf War experienced PTSD
  • PTSD is more common amongst female veterans (13%) than male veterans (6%)
  • Veterans who are deployed are 3x more likely to experience PTSD compared to those in the same service era who aren’t deployed.

Veterans with PTSD have an increased risk of depression and many of the symptoms overlap, including insomnia, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and loss of pleasure or interest in activities once enjoyed. It is common for veterans to experience both depression and PTSD at the same time. 


Chronic anxiety is also common amongst military personnel. One Yale-led study found that 7.9% of military veterans screened positive for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This is significantly higher than the 2.9% prevalence of GAD in the United States adult population. The research also found that 1 in 4 veterans experienced mild anxiety. 

Anxiety in military personnel and veterans can manifest as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or social anxiety. The constant state of alertness required in combat zones can leave a lasting impact on the nervous system, making it difficult for veterans to relax and feel safe in everyday situations. 

Mood disorders in military spouses

Mood disorders aren’t limited to service members and veterans. Military spouses also face unique challenges that can affect mental health and well-being, including frequent relocations, extended separations, and persistent worry for their loved one’s safety. 

Spouses of deployed service members experience higher prevalence of mood disorders than the general population, reporting more stress, depression, and increased use of mental health services and depression. A 2021 military spouses survey found that: 

  • 53% of active-duty spouses reported feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge
  • 38% felt down, depressed, or hopeless 
  • 44% sought counseling during their partner’s career. 

Military spouses often receive few-to-no updates about their partner’s safety and well-being during deployment, leading to high stress levels. In many cases, military spouses put their careers on hold and act as single parents while their partners are in training or service. After deployment, military spouses must adjust to interacting with partners who have experienced stressful and traumatic situations. 

Because of these challenges, depression is common amongst military spouses. This is often referred to as spouse deployment depression or military wife depression. If a partner experiences trauma or injury during military service, it’s common for their spouse to also struggle with PTSD.

Mood disorders in military spouses can manifest with symptoms including:

  • Lack of pleasure or interest in daily activities
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive worrying
  • Flashbacks to periods when partners were deployed
  • Persistent sadness. 

Mood disorders in military children

Military children also feel the impact of their parent’s service. They may experience various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, and behavioral issues. These may be caused by various factors of military life, including instability and uncertainty, frequent absences of a parent, and the stress of relocations.

Studies show that:

Although children of military personnel and veterans can experience the same stress and anxiety as their parents, they may express their symptoms differently. This can include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Chronic sadness
  • Difficulty adjusting to new routines
  • Social & emotional difficulties
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Persistent worry for their parent’s safety.

These symptoms can follow military children into adulthood and continue having an impact on their mental health and well-being.

How to know if you’re experiencing depression

Have you noticed changes in you or your loved one’s behavior since leaving active duty? Or are you experiencing ongoing anxiety during your partner’s deployment? If so, depression may be a cause. 

Signs of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities once found enjoyable
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Brain fog
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Insomnia.

If you feel you or a loved one may have depression, know you are not alone and help is available. Depression is highly treatable through both antidepressants and non-drug treatments such as talk therapy and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy.

Using TMS therapy to treat depression, PTSD, and anxiety

For many people with depression, the first line of treatment involves taking antidepressant medications or talk therapy. Sometimes, these treatments can be enough to ease symptoms and help service members and military families resume their lives as normal. However, they don’t always work for everyone. 

Some people try different medications and therapies but still find no relief from their depression, anxiety or PTSD symptoms. In some cases, medication can relieve some symptoms but cause unwanted side effects. This is known as treatment-resistant depression, and for these people, TMS therapy can be the solution. 

What is TMS therapy?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is an FDA-approved treatment for depression and related mental health conditions, such as anxiety and PTSD. It involves delivering painless magnetic pulses to regions of the brain associated with mood disorders, such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Stimulating nerve cells in these regions can help restore healthy functioning of the brain by activating neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. 

As a non-invasive and non-systemic treatment, TMS therapy doesn’t require anesthesia or sedation. Each session lasts around 20 minutes and, afterwards, patients can return home and resume normal activities as usual. To provide long-term relief from depression and other mood disorders, a total of 36 TMS treatment sessions are usually prescribed. 

TMS therapy is well-tolerated by most people and has few short-lived side effects. A nationwide study into TMS therapy conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs found the treatment safe and effective in reducing symptoms of depression and PTSD. 

Benefits of TMS for military families

TMS therapy offers unique benefits compared to traditional anxiety, PTSD, and depression treatments. This can make the treatment more tolerable and effective for military families. 

Benefits of TMS therapy for veterans and military families include:

No drug-related side effects 

Although antidepressants can be a valuable depression and PTSD treatment, they can produce various side effects including weight gain, headaches, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction. On the other hand, TMS therapy produces few side effects and most people will not experience any. Side effects can include mild headaches, fatigue, and tingling of facial muscles, all of which tend to be short-lived and disappear within 1-2 hours of treatment.

Simple procedure

TMS therapy is an outpatient procedure that is delivered in around 20 minutes. Because it doesn’t require any sedation, patients are free to drive themselves home and continue their daily activities with minimal disruption to their normal routine. 

Covered by major health insurances

Although it’s still a relatively new procedure, TMS therapy is FDA-approved for the treatment of depression and related mood disorders and is covered by many major insurance companies. This includes TRICARE, United Healthcare, Aetna, and Medicare.

Long-term results

Research into TMS therapy suggests that its benefits can improve mood and quality of life in the long-term. In one study, TMS patients were tracked for a year following treatment. 62.5% of those who responded to TMS still experienced improvements a year later and 45.1% who achieved remission still enjoyed a life free of symptoms. More promisingly, 84.2% of those who benefited from TMS but didn’t experience remission after the first round of treatment did so during their second round. 

Higher success rate

A study by Harvard Medical School found that most people with depression who tried and failed to benefit from antidepressants responded well to TMS therapy. From this group, one third experienced a full remission with symptoms disappearing completely. This high success rate shows tremendous promise for using TMS therapy for military veterans and families, and many healthcare providers find it more effective than traditional ways of treating PTSD, depression, and anxiety. 


TRICARE is a leading healthcare provider for active-duty service members and their families. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is included in TRICARE’s outpatient procedure coverage. 

This means the revolutionary mental health treatment is available to: 

  • Active duty service members
  • Retired military personnel
  • Spouses & children of serving or retired military members
  • Members of the National Guard or Reserve.

If you are unsure of your plan, you can find more information about eligibility and coverage on the TRICARE website. Alternatively, the staff at BestMind are happy to discuss your TRICARE insurance coverage. 

BestMind: TMS provider for military families

BestMind Behavioral Health is honored to support military families with TMS therapy treatments. We have helped countless patients discover the benefits of the treatment, including service members and their family members, and can customize treatment plans to suit your specific needs. 

Our TMS treatments take place in our clinics in Oregon and Colorado and are led by our caring and attentive staff. Contact us today for a free consultation.

BestMind TMS therapy clinics in Colorado 

BestMind TMS therapy clinic in Broomfield, Colorado is at 2095 W 6th Ave, Suite 106. Our Broomfield clinic can be reached by phone at (303) 468-8018 or you can book a consultation online

BestMind TMS therapy clinic in Denver, Colorado is at 6950 E Belleview Ave, Suite 300. Our Denver clinic can be reached by phone at (303) 468-8018 or you can book a consultation online.

BestMind TMS therapy clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado is at 24 S. Weber Street, Suite 345. Our Colorado Springs clinic can be reached by phone at (303) 468-8018 or you can book a consultation online

BestMind TMS therapy clinics in Oregon 

BestMind TMS therapy clinic in Clackamas, Oregon is at 9895 SE Sunnyside Road, Suite F. Our Clackamas clinic can be reached by phone at (971) 300-0654 or you can book a consultation online

BestMind TMS therapy clinic in Portland, Oregon is at 13535 SW 72nd Avenue, Suite 170. Our Portland clinic can be reached by phone at (971) 300-0654 or you can book a consultation online.

BestMind TMS therapy clinic in Salem, Oregon is at 2480 Liberty Street NE, Suite 110. Our Salem clinic can be reached by phone at (971) 300-0654 or you can book a consultation online.

BestMind TMS therapy clinic in Bend, Oregon is at 250 NW Franklin Avenue, Suite 204. Our Bend clinic can be reached by phone at (971) 300-0654 or you can book a consultation online.