By Dr. David Woo - July 17, 2023
Transmagnetic stimulation therapy (TMS) is an FDA approved treatment option for depression and other mental health disorders. Recent studies consistently show TMS to be an effective treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), borderline personality disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as other phenomena such as migraines and addiction (1,2,3,4).
TMS therapy results in studies and trials are very promising, but because TMS is still a novel treatment, it’s only natural to look for TMS therapy reviews before trying it for yourself. You might have questions, such as:
- How does TMS work?
- How effective is TMS therapy?
- Are there side effects?
- Who is eligible for TMS?
We can find out about people’s real-life experiences with TMS by looking at medical research papers, news reports, and testimonials from patients. To understand both the success stories and concerns, it’s necessary to know a little about how TMS works.
TMS Therapy Success Rate
The brain contains cells called neurons that are linked together by chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. The electrochemical activity between these cells is what regulates our mood, personality, and emotional reactions. When there is an abnormality in this activity—for example, people with depression have brains that do not produce as much serotonin as usual—this can negatively impact our mental health and manifest as the symptoms of mood disorders, such as extreme sadness, anger, worry or emotional instability.
TMS addresses these brain abnormalities by using a head-mounted device called a coil to deliver tiny electromagnetic currents to the regions of the brain associated with your mental health condition, stimulating brain activity to “normal” levels to alleviate symptoms.
For some patients, the success of TMS can be nothing short of astonishing. In one interview by Men’s Health, a twenty-six-year-old man with depression described his experience after a course of TMS:
“I’m feeling like myself again. After these treatments, I feel like I’m more connected with myself and the world around me, and I can truly say that I’m happy with myself” (5).
Another report from USNews quotes a TMS patient saying:
“Gee, I’m more interested in things, I have more energy and I’m concentrating better” (6).
Newsweek also reported on a severely depressed woman’s experience before and after TMS. Following, treatment, she said:
“I feel like my old self again—only better. Because I now know that mental health is rooted in the physical: in brain chemistry and circuitry. It was not my fault; it had never been my fault” (7).
Another woman told CBS that after taking TMS for depression, she experienced a new way of looking at the world:
“out of the blue…I said ‘I love life.’ I’ve never said that before” (8).
At Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry, the success rate of TMS to treat depression has been consistent with national results. An analysis of results using technical measurements from the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) depression scale confirmed that 70% of our patients responded positively to TMS therapy, while 40% had achieved remission.
Concerns About TMS Therapy
Of course, people respond differently to treatments, and you may also see some less positive testimonials regarding TMS. In these cases, it is important to bear the overall success of the therapy in mind. For example:
“I tried TMS and it didn’t work”
- Not everyone experiences remission after TMS, but it is important to note the aforementioned statistics. TMS is prescribed for patients who have already proven to be resistant to traditional therapies; however, TMS is more likely to succeed in the long term when combined with talk therapy and/or medications.
“I felt better for a while, but my symptoms returned”
- A nine-week course of TMS sessions is usually required to see results. Some people require maintenance sessions, to ‘top up’ and continue to experience relief in the long term.
“I experienced uncomfortable side effects”
- Although most patients do not experience side effects, those that do report a mild headache or scalp irritation, easily treatable with over-the-counter medications.
TMS Therapy In NYC
If you think that you or a loved one may be struggling with a mental health condition that TMS could help with, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Failure to seek help may lead to a worsening of symptoms.
- Tendler A, Goerigk S, Zibman S, Ouaknine S, Harmelech T, Pell G, Zangen A, Harvey S, Grammer G, Stehberg J, Adefolarin O, Muir O, MacMillan C, Ghelber D, Duffy W, Mania I, Faruqui Z, Munasif Fi, Antin T, Padberg F, Roth Y. Deep TMS H1 Coil treatment for depression: Results from a large post marketing data analysis. Psychiatry Research. 2023;324. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165178123001300. Accessed May 7, 2023.
- Brainsway. Deep TMS is found Safe and Effective for the Treatment of ADHD. https://www.brainsway.com/knowledge-center/deep-tms-found-safe-effective-treatment-adhd/. Accessed May 7, 2023.
- Sverak T, Linhartova P, Gajdos M, Kuhn M, Latalova A, Lamos M, Ustohal L and Kasparek T. Brain Connectivity and Symptom Changes After Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder. Front. Psychiatry. 2022;12:770353. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.770353/full. Accessed May 7, 2023.
- Roth Y, Barnea-Ygael N, Carmi L, Storch EA, Tendler A, and Zangen A. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder is efficacious even in patients who failed multiple medications and CBT. Psychiatry Research. 2020;290:113179. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32540588/. Accessed May 3, 2023.
- I Tried Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Cure My Depression. Here’s What Happened. Men’s Health. 2018. https://www.menshealth.com/health/a20833041/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation/. Accessed June 16, 2023.
- What Is TMS Treatment for Depression? US News. 2022. https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/tms-therapy. Accessed June 16, 2023.
- I Had Crippling Depression—Until I Tried a New Treatment. Newsweek. 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/i-had-depression-tms-cure-treatment-1743184. Accessed June 16, 2023.
- “I have so much hope”: How deep transcranial magnetic stimulation changed one woman’s life. CBS News. 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/deep-transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-changed-womans-life-depression/. Accessed June 17, 2023.