TMS and Depression


An estimated 6% of Americans suffer from depression, according to Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Many of these men and women will turn to prescription drugs for relief, with only a few ever completely ridding themselves of symptoms of depression. However, a new alternative to drug therapy is currently being heralded as a non-invasive, yet effective treatment for depression. This new therapy is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, this is a method of painlessly stimulating specific areas of the brain using magnetic coils. TMS works by targeting areas of the brain involved with mood control and regulation. Short electromagnetic impulses travel into these zones and electrical currents stimulate the nerve cells there, working to effectively reset these nerve cells.

How does TMS affect depression?

Although depression is not yet entirely understood, it is well-established that certain areas within the brain are not functioning correctly when the condition is present. MRIs of patients suffering from depression show that their brains show physiological differences compared to those of the non-depressed people. These MRIs have given scientists a map of the depressed brain, highlighting the areas affected by the disorder. By stimulating the brain areas indicated, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation can provide significant and long-lasting relief for the person suffering from depression.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Depression

Most often, Transcranial magnetic stimulation is prescribed in cases where traditional drug or talk therapy was not effective in improving the symptoms of depression. TMS has shown remarkable promise as a treatment for such patients, many of whom have suffered from major depression for years without relief. TMS is also a good option for patients who are suffering from bad side effects from prescription drugs.

The Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Experience

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a painless and non-invasive option for treating depression. Although it is grounded in complex science, TMS is a simple outpatient experience for the patient, lasting approximately 30-60 minutes. During this time, the patient’s head will first be fitted with magnetic coils before settling into a comfortable chair and enduring no more than gentle pressure on the forehead and the sound of clicking.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation vs. Drug Therapy

In America, major depressive disorder is most frequently treated with SSRI and SNRI antidepressants. However, compared to prescription drug therapy for depression, TMS has fewer side effects. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a brain stimulation therapy, rooted in the same science as electroconvulsive therapy or electroshock. However, unlike electroconvulsive therapy, it is not associated with seizures or cognitive impairments. Recently, APA News announced that TMS conferred long-term success in treating major depression, with benefits from the treatment lasting for up to a year.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

In recent news, a company by the name of Brainsway has pioneered a new form of TMS known as Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation. Brainsway claims that the new deep TMS is almost twice as effective as traditional TMS in treating depression.  Deep TMS is also said to require a shorter treatment period, as well as to gain results that last longer. Brainsway’s Deep TMS therapy is indicative of the bright future ahead for those looking to treat their depression with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

Westside Neurotherapeutics provides dTMS therapy for depression. For more information, contact them by phone at 310.946.0008 or email us at

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