What is TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a series of repetitive, brief and focused magnetic pulses, used to stimulate brain cells.
How does it work?
When a nerve cell ‘fires’, an electrical impulse travel along its length. It communicates with other nerve cells by releasing neurotransmitters, which create an electrical impulse in other cells. In depressed patients, the electrical activity in certain areas of the brain have been shown to be reduced. TMS uses a focused electromagnetic coil, to rapidly pulse a magnetic field to the targeted area of the brain.
The magnetic pulses induce an electrical current in the brain, stimulating the nerve cells, increasing the brain activity to normal levels.
TMS is typically prescribed when antidepressants have failed, or the side effects have proven too disruptive to a patient’s lifestyle or system. This may be called treatment resistant depression, or TRD.
Approximately 58% of patients with treatment resistant depression respond positively to TMS therapy, >37% of patients achieve complete remission.
Other treatments for TRD include Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), which works by applying a brief electrical pulse to the brain that medically induces a seizure. ECT is performed in a hospital under anesthesia and can be associated with numerous side effects. TMS is a gentle, non-systemic, outpatient procedure with few known adverse effects associated. Patients can return to their daily activities after treatment.
Possible side effects:
TMS is a safe and well-tolerated treatment with few known adverse effects. Clinical studies show that the most common side effects are mild to moderate scalp discomfort and mild headaches, both of which are short-term.
Who can receive TMS?
TMS therapy is indicated for adults with Major Depressive Disorder, who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication in the current episode.