TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is an evidence-based, non-evasive treatment for depression. A magnetic coil, placed lightly against the scalp, produces targeted electrical currents which activate regions of the brain responsible for mood. Patients sit comfortably during treatment, which is fast, painless and non-invasive.
Anyone with depression should consider TMS as a possible treatment. TMS may be especially helpful if:
TMS is probably not for you if you have a pacemaker, defibrillator, or another metal implant. However, every patient is different, and deciding the best treatment starts with a proper assessment.
TMS has been used to treat thousands of patients worldwide. More than 30 years of study has found no significant harmful effects. Occasionally there are side-effects during treatment (such as fatigue, mild scalp discomfort, or headache) but these are almost always brief and mild, and very rarely lead to stopping treatment.
Over 40 randomised controlled trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of TMS. Most studies have examined TMS for treatment-resistant depression (i.e. depression unresponsive to at least two medications). In this most difficult group, around half of patients improve, and around one third achieve full remission. Such positive results suggest that patients choosing TMS as their first treatment will have an even higher rate of success. The benefits of a TMS course have been shown to last approximately 12 months. Patients often return for booster sessions to maintain improvement, or to treat a relapse should one occur.
TMS treatment typically consists of 20 to 35 sessions over 3 to 6 weeks. The full cost of a treatment session is $185 per session. A Medicare rebate is now available for eligible patients. Funding for TMS treatment may also be provided by DVA, WorkCover, and service military.