By Dr. David Woo - August 27, 2019
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a novel therapy for treatment-resistant depression that has been getting a lot of attention recently. Patients who have tried multiple antidepressant medications and are frustrated with results are choosing to try TMS. Several studies prove the positive results of TMS for people with treatment-resistant depression. (1,2) But an important question that is not so clearly outlined is: how long do the effects of TMS treatment last?
TMS Has Been Proven to Provide Long-Lasting Results
A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry explored the question of how long TMS results last. For this study, 257 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder, who did not show signs of improvement with antidepressant medication, were given a single six-week course of TMS treatment. TMS treatments were administered in 42 clinics across the country. To document how long the effects of TMS treatment lasted, patients participated in an initial assessment before receiving TMS in addition to follow-up assessments over the course of 52 weeks after receiving TMS treatment: at three, six, nine, and 12 months. After TMS, 120 of the 257 patients achieved remission (found relief from or were free of depressive symptoms). The results of this study showed that 62.5 percent of study participants who achieved remission after TMS continued to show signs of response to treatment and/or remission one year after treatment. (3,4)
TMS Results Can Vary From Patient to Patient
How long TMS therapy results last depend on the medical history of the patient. A study published in 2019 in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience explores the possible factors that can predict a positive response from TMS, including:
- Early positive response to TMS treatments
- Severity of depression and depressive symptoms (5)
Maintenance treatments may be necessary if symptoms return, and another round of TMS treatment may be necessary if the patient has experienced a full relapse. Studies have shown that reintroduction of TMS when symptoms reappear can restore the positive effects of the initial course of TMS. (6,7)
So, How Long Will TMS Results Last for Me?
The answer is that how long TMS will last varies from patient to patient. Many of my patients are still in remission a year after treatment, but others require intermittent maintenance treatments before then. These maintenance treatments are covered by insurance. If a patient feels their depression symptoms returning after having TMS, they should contact their psychiatrist.
Interested in Learning More About TMS Treatment in NYC and if It Can Help You?
1. Carpenter LL, Janicak PG, Aaronson ST, et al. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for major depression: A multisite, naturalistic, observational study of acute treatment outcomes in clinical practice. Depress Anxiety. 2012;29(7):587-96. Click Here. Accessed August 10, 2019.
2. Avery DH, Isenberg KE, Sampson SM, et al. Transcranial magnetic stimulation in the acute treatment of major depressive disorder: clinical response in an open-label extension trial. J. Clin Psychiatry. 2008; 69:441-451. Click Here. Accessed August 10, 2019.
3. Dunner DL, Aaronson ST, Sackeim HA, et al. A multisite, naturalistic, observational study of transcranial magnetic stimulation for patients with pharmacoresistant major depressive disorder: Durability of benefit over a 1-year follow-up period. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014;75(12):1394-401. Click Here. Accessed August 10, 2019.
4. Dunner DL, Aaronson ST, Sackeim HA, et al. A multisite, naturalistic, observational study of transcranial magnetic stimulation for patients with pharmacoresistant major depressive disorder: Durability of benefit over a 1-year follow-up period. Psychiatrist.com: The Journal of Clinical psychiatry. Click Here. Accessed August 12, 2019.
5. Kar SK. Predictors of Response to Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Depression: A Review of Recent Updates. Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience. February 2019;17(1):25–33. Click Here. Accessed August 12, 2019.
6. Demirtas-Tatlidede A, Mechanic-Hamilton D, Press DZ, Pearlman C, Stern WM, Thall M, and Pascual-Leone A. An open-label, prospective study of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in the long-term treatment of refractory depression: reproducibility and duration of the antidepressant effect in medication-free patients. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2008;69(6):930–934. Click Here. Accessed August 12, 2019.7. Fitzgerald PB, Benitez J, de Castella AR, Brown TL, Daskalakis ZJ, and Kulkarni J. Naturalistic study of the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of depressive relapse. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 2006;40(9):764–768. Click Here. Accessed August 12, 2019.