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Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy a Hoax?

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Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy a Hoax?

When searching for information about TMS online, you may find some articles debating whether it’s legitimate. While TMS is becoming more widely known, many people aren’t aware of the positive outcomes that TMS can provide for patients with certain mental health conditions, especially depression and OCD.

The National Institute of Mental Health tells us that nearly one in five adults in the US is living with a mental illness. Effective treatments, such as prescription medication and psychotherapy, exist for many mental health conditions. But these treatments don’t work for everyone. With TMS, patients who don’t see results with traditional therapies have another option.

What Is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a medication-free, noninvasive treatment method that is FDA-approved for major depressive disorder (MDD), anxious depression, and OCD. While a few, mild side effects are possible, TMS is a well-tolerated treatment and the vast majority of patients experience no side effects. TMS is proven to be especially helpful for patients who are considered to be treatment-resistant—people who have not seen positive results, or enough relief, from prescription medications.(1,2,3)

Unlike prescription medications that work to regulate brain activity chemically, TMS therapy uses an electromagnetic coil to deliver magnetic pulses to the brain and regulate brain activity electrically. These magnetic pulses can regulate neural activity in targetted brain regions, reducing symptoms of many mental health conditions.(4)

TMS Is Proven To Be Effective

Since the 1990s, studies have shown that TMS can safely and effectively reduce symptoms of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many other conditions.(4)

Deep TMS for Depression

TMS is probably studied the most for its positive effects on depression symptoms. Multiple studies and reviews of clinical trials show that TMS is effective for treatment-resistant patients–patients who do not find relief, or enough progress, with antidepressants.(5) In fact, a comparison of two important studies shows that TMS is more effective than trying another antidepressant when the patient has tried two or more antidepressants.

Deep TMS for Anxious Depression

Depression can often occur with anxiety symptoms. When this happens, it is referred to as anxious depression. Deep TMS, the type of TMS therapy we use here at Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry, is FDA-approved for anxious depression

Deep TMS for OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition characterized by obsessive or compulsive thoughts and behaviors. In 2018, Deep TMS was FDA-approved to treat symptoms of OCD. Deep TMS is proven to be effective even for patients who have not seen relief with traditional OCD treatment options (medication and exposure and response therapy). 

Who Is a Candidate for TMS?

You might be a candidate for TMS if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with a condition that TMS is proven to treat (Deep TMS, the type of TMS therapy we use here at Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry, is FDA-approved to treat depression, anxious depression, and OCD) 
  • Haven’t found relief, or enough relief, from your symptoms with traditional treatments, like medication and psychotherapy
  • Are experiencing unpleasant or intolerable side effects from your medication
  • Don’t have a history of seizures or seizure disorders
  • Don’t have a metal or electronic implant 
Are you a candidate for TMS?


1. Pell GS, Harmelech T, Zibman S, Roth Y, Tendler A, and Zangen A. Efficacy of Deep TMS with the H1 Coil for Anxious Depression. J Clin Med. 2022;11(4):1015. Link. Accessed August 26, 2022.

2. Carmi, L., Tendler, A., et al. Efficacy and Safety of Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Prospective Multicenter Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2019;176(11):931-938. Link. Accessed August 26, 2022.

3. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. MayoClinic. Published November 27, 2018. Link. Accessed August 26, 2022.

4. Somani A and Kar SK. Efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in treatment-resistant depression: the evidence thus far. Gen Psychiatr. 2019;32(4):e100074. Link. Accessed August 26, 2022.

5. Hung YY, Yang LH, Stubbs B, Li DJ, Tseng PT, Yeh TC, Chen TY, Liang CS, and Chu CS. Efficacy and tolerability of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment-resistant depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020;99:109850. Link. Accessed August 30, 2022.

Dr. David Woo

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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