Get the Facts on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Facts on TMS therapy


So what are the facts on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

TMS is a treatment used to relieve depression symptoms. During treatment, magnetic fields stimulate that part of the brain which regulates mood. The treatment has been available in Australia for over a decade. It has been used to treat depression around the world for over twenty years. There is a great deal of medical research supporting the treatment. It is TGA approved and endorsed by medical professionals world wide.

TMS therapy is the recommended treatment of depression when other treatments have failed. Those patients, who have not responded to antidepressant medications should consider the treatment. There are many reasons why doctors are recommending it for depression patients:

  • Not everyone can tolerate antidepressant medication due to the multitude of side effects
  • Some people find it difficult taking medication
  • Many people are looking for an alternative to medication therapy

Get the Facts on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Side Effects

The side effects associated with TMS are mild in comparison with antidepressants. The most common side effects include:

  • scalp irritation,
  • facial muscle twitching
  • mild headaches.

Many patients who experience some of the side effects find that they improve as the treatment progresses. Headaches can also be treated with paracetamol. Compare these with side effect of antidepressants:

  • stomach upset
  • dry mouth
  • tiredness
  • weight fluctuation
  • sexual dysfunction

How does TMS actually work?

A magnetic pulse is generated by a coil that is positioned above the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. Magnetic pulses pass through to  the underlying brain, stimulating the neurones. The stimulation aims to improve brain activity here.

When looking at your treatment options, it is vital to consult your treating doctor. Not everyone is a suitable candidate to receive TMS treatment. If you have problems determining your own suitability, we can help you. Our in house psychiatrist will conduct a thorough individual assessment.

Can TMS be used in conjunction with other therapies?

Yes. It is possible to undergo the therapy whilst also taking medication or other psychotherapy treatments. It is important to let our psychiatrist guide you through the management of your treatment.

Please note, that TMS therapy is not recommended if you are also having ECT (electro-convulsive therapy)

How effective is TMS therapy?

There is now an extensive body of research supporting the effectiveness of the therapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Patients who have major depression and resistant to antidepressants should consider it. Research suggests that approximately 50% of patients will experience an improvement in depression symptoms after TMS treatment.  At Sydney TMS, we closely monitor our results and have found that we have a 60% response rate. When you compare this to 30% response rates for antidepressant medication, you can appreciate that TMS can play a very important role.

The first session is an assessment by a psychiatrist to determine suitability. Who can receive TMS treatment?

  • Diagnosed with Depression by a medical doctor
  • Must be over 18 years of age
  • Tried two or more antidepressant medications
  • Must not be pregnant
  • Must not have any metal implants above the shoulder

We recommend you bring along a doctor’s referral when you come along to your assessment. Click here for a copy.

This link will take you to our referral form and provide you with an outline of everything you need. If your referring doctor would like to discuss your situation with our psychiatrist please use this link.

For more information about TMS please refer to the following:

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

Blackdog Institute

Beyond Blue Community Forum