What is TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation uses precisely targeted magnetic pulses to stimulate specific areas of the brain. TMS has been shown to be effective for many patients who have not benefited from other treatments.
Because it uses magnetic pulses, TMS is largely free of side effects, in much the same way that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is free of side effects. And because it has an extremely low risk profile, TMS is an excellent treatment choice for patients who cannot tolerate the risks or side effects of antidepressant medications or other biological treatments, including ECT (electroconvulsive therapy).
How it works
TMS therapy is usually administered 4-5 days a week for
approximately 4-6 weeks. Patients remain awake and
alert and can return to their normal activities
immediately following each treatment.
Treatments are conducted in an office setting while the
patient sits in a reclining chair. A small device containing
the magnetic coil rests lightly on the patient's head. During treatment the patient hears a clicking sound, and feels a gentle tapping sensation on their head.
Each treatment takes approximately 35 minutes for standard protocols, and only 3 to 6 minutes for Theta Burst treatments.
TMS has no adverse effects on alertness or any aspect of cognitive functioning. In fact, there is some evidence that TMS enhances certain aspects of cognitive functioning, including short term memory.
TMS has been proven in numerous studies worldwide to be as effective, and in many cases more effective than medication in achieving remission from symptoms of depression and anxiety. It has proven to be an effective treatment option for patients with depression who have not responded to one or more antidepressants.
Ongoing research is demonstrating the potential effectiveness and safety of TMS in the treatment of eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression during pregnancy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain.
Remission rates are variable, but a course of TMS therapy for depression can keep patients symptom free for a year or more.
The most common side effect is discomfort at or near the treatment site. There is a rare risk of seizure. Other side effects reported have included eye, tooth, and facial pain, muscle twitch, and skin discomfort.
Cambridge TMS offers 24/7 emergency coverage. Please see the Contact page for more information.