Am I a Candidate for Deep TMS (dTMS)?

Deep TMS, also referred to as dTMS, is a non-medication depression and OCD treatment that uses magnetic waves to help stimulate parts of the brain associated with mood regulation. You might be a candidate for dTMS if you fall into one of the following categories:

You Have Been Diagnosed with a Condition That dTMS Is Proven to Treat

Deep TMS is FDA-approved to treat depression (major depressive disorder) and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Deep TMS is clinically proven to help relieve symptoms in patients diagnosed with depression and OCD who have not seen results with antidepressants and talk therapy.(1,2)

You Have Not Found Relief after Trying Several Antidepressants

Antidepressants are considered the gold standard of medication treatment for people with depression and OCD. While many people do get relief from depression and OCD symptoms with antidepressants, a significant percentage (roughly 1/3 of people with depression and 40 to 50% of people with OCD) of patients don’t.(3,4) When a patient doesn’t respond to antidepressants, this is referred to as treatment resistance. Fortunately, Deep TMS is especially helpful in patients diagnosed with treatment resistance.

For patients who are wary of discontinuing their antidepressant, it is possible to receive dTMS treatment while taking an antidepressant. Initial research suggests that undergoing deep TMS treatment, while also taking an antidepressant is safe and effective.(5)

If you have tried multiple antidepressants while also seeing a therapist, and you haven’t seen an improvement in your symptoms, or if you notice a worsening of your symptoms, you might be a candidate for dTMS. 

You Experience Unpleasant Side Effects from Antidepressants

It’s common to experience unwanted side effects for the first couple of weeks when trying a new antidepressant. However, if these side effects do not go away, you may want to try a different antidepressant or a treatment that has fewer side effects, like dTMS.

If you’re experiencing unwanted side effects from an antidepressant, talk to your doctor. Do not stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor, as this may lead to a sudden worsening of symptoms and may increase your risk of relapse. 

You Do Not Have a History of Seizures or Seizure Disorders

People with a seizure disorder occasionally experience abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This abnormal electrical activity is what causes the onset of a seizure. Since TMS relieves depression symptoms by electrically stimulating the brain, this stimulation could potentially exacerbate a seizure condition. 

You Do Not Have Any Metal Implants or Electronic Implants

People who have the following implants are not candidates for TMS:

  • A metal implant in or around the head (including the mouth and neck)
  • An aneurysm clip or coil
  • A cochlear implant
  • A pacemaker
  • A vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) 
  • An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)

People with dental fillings and implants, braces, and piercings can safely undergo TMS treatment. 

Are you a candidate for dTMS?

Want to Learn More About TMS?

If you’re interested in whether deep TMS may be a good fit for you, take our quiz or schedule a consultation with Dr. Woo today. You can also learn more about TMS and how it works to relieve symptoms of depression and OCD here


1. Levkovitz Y, Isserles M, Padberg F, et al. Efficacy and safety of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation for major depression: a prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial. World Psychiatry. 2015;14(1):64–73. Accessed November 16, 2021.

2. Roth Y, Tendler A, Arikan MK, et al. Real-world efficacy of deep TMS for obsessive-compulsive disorder: Post-marketing data collected from twenty-two clinical sites. J Psychiatr Res. 2021;137:667-672. Accessed November 16, 2021.

3. Ionescu DF, Rosenbaum JF, and Alpert JE. Pharmacological approaches to the challenge of treatment-resistant depression. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2015;17(2):111–126. Accessed November 16, 2021.

4. Albert U, Bergesio C, Pessina E, et al. Management of treatment resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder. Algorithms for pharmacotherapy. Panminerva Med. 2002;44(2):83-91. Accessed November 16, 2021.

5. Berlim MT, Van den Eynde F, Tovar-Perdomo S, et al. Augmenting antidepressants with deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (DTMS) in treatment-resistant major depression. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2014;15(7):570-578. Accessed November 16, 2021.

Dr. Woo has been seeing patients in private practice since 2002, always with the goals of combining evidence-based medicine with psychodynamic psychotherapy and collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients. He has been certified to administer TMS at his practice since 2017. His greatest clinical interests include helping patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

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