TMS is a non-invasive therapy with few side effects, prescribed for patients who suffer from TRD and haven’t responded favorably to medications alone. TMS is effective in approximately 60% of patients, making it twice as effective as antidepressant medications.
TMS delivers localized electromagnetic pulses to the prefrontal cortex, which regulates mood, to stimulate cortical neurons and relieve the symptoms of depression.
TMS therapy was FDA-cleared for depression therapy in 2008, and has been the subject of studies from leading medical institutions including Johns Hopkins and Stanford. It also shows promise as a treatment for other health conditions.
TMS is administered in sessions lasting approximately 30-60 minutes, five times a week, over a period of four to six weeks. No anesthesia or sedation is required and patients can resume their usual activities immediately after each session. Some people notice temporary improvement as early as the first or second week as existing neural circuits are stimulated. Repeated treatment over several weeks gradually encourages new circuits to form, making depression relief self-sustaining for many patients.
Unlike antidepressants, TMS therapy is not associated with systemic side effects, which are produced by the passage of medications through the bloodstream. Although generally well tolerated, some patients report mild-to-moderate discomfort from the electromagnetic pulses. However, fewer than 5% of patients discontinued treatment because of side effects.
It’s also important to note that TMS treatment may not eliminate the need to continue taking antidepressant medication, but it can reduce the amount of medication needed by the patient and, thereby, minimize the side effects associated with them. Follow-up treatments may be necessary to maintain responsiveness.