How Successful Is TMS in Treating Depression?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is clinically proven to safely and effectively relieve depressive symptoms, even in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Not only is TMS successful in alleviating symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, but the results are also long-lasting.
In real-world studies, clinical assessment showed that 58% of patients responded to TMS therapy and 37.1% achieved remission.1
A comparison of two landmark studies shows that TMS is 2 to 4 times more effective in relieving depressive symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression than antidepressants.1.2
62.5% of people who found relief with TMS continued to have fewer depression symptoms one year after treatment.
To reach these TMS therapy success rates, a nine-week course of treatment is required. In some cases, maintenance sessions are needed. For some patients, depression symptoms may return in the future. These patients may require a second course of TMS.
What Affects TMS Treatment Success Rates?
The success rate of TMS therapy can vary, but TMS is highly effective for a wide range of people (take our quiz to learn whether you’re a candidate for TMS). But some studies have indicated that a few factors may make a person more or less likely to respond to TMS treatment:
- Age: Patients younger than 60 have been shown to respond better to TMS.4
- Personality: People with higher persistence scores (people who are persistent tend to persevere even when frustrated or tired) on the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) personality questionnaire respond more quickly to TMS.5 Robert Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory is used by psychiatrists around the world to identify and group personality types.
- Treatment-Resistance Level: Patients who are less resistant to antidepressant medications respond more positively to TMS.7 (Though studies suggest that people who are resistant to antidepressants may respond more positively to TMS than to antidepressants.)
- Taking an Antidepressant at the Same Time: If you’re taking an antidepressant while undergoing TMS, TMS may make the antidepressant more effective, meaning better overall results.8.9
TMS is not indicated for patients who have a history of seizures or seizure disorders, or who have a permanent metal implant in their head.
Madison Avenue TMS Success Rates
At Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry, our TMS depression success rates are consistent with national results. Among our patients, 62% of our patients have responded to TMS therapy, while 30% have achieved remission. Our results were analyzed using technical measurements from the PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) depression scale.
Response to TMS treatment is indicated when PHQ-9 depression scores are reduced by at least 50 percent.
Remission from depressive symptoms is indicated when PHQ-9 depression scores fall below a 5 on a 27 point scale.
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. Depression and Anxiety. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22689344/ July 2012;29(7):587-96
2. Gaynes BM, Rush AJ, Madhukar HT, Wisniewski SR, Spencer D, Maurizio F. The STAR*D study: Treating depression in the real world. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18236731/ Jan 2008;75(1):57-66.
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. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25271871/ 2014;75(12):1394-401.
4. Pallanti S, Cantisani A, Grassi G, Antonini S, Cecchelli C, Burian J, Cauli G, and Quercioli L. rTMS age-dependent response in treatment-resistant depressed subjects: a mini-review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22790115/ CNS Spectrums. March 2012;17(1):24-30.
5. Siddiqi SH, Chockalingam R, Cloninger R, Lenze EJ, and Cristancho, P. Use of the temperament and character inventory to predict response to repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for major depression. Journal of Psychiatric Practice. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27123799/ May 2016;22(3):193-202.
6. Mochcovitch MD, Nardi AE, and Cardoso A. Temperament and character dimensions and their relationship to major depression and panic disorder. Braz J of Psychiatry. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-27854-012
7. Fregni F, Marcolin MA, Myczkowski M, Amiaz R, Hasey G, Rumi DO, Rosa M, Rigonatti SP, Camprodon J, Walpoth M, Heaslip J, Grunhaus L, Hausmann A, and Pascual-Leone A. Predictors of antidepressant response in clinical trials of transcranial magnetic stimulation. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16939662/ December 2006;9(6):641-54.
8. Bangshan L, Zhang Y, Zhang L, and Li L. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation as an augmentative strategy for treatment-resistant depression, a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind and sham-controlled study. BMC Psychiatry. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25433539/ 2014;14:342.
9. Rumi DO, Gattaz WF, Rigonatti SP, Rosa MA, Fregni F, Rosa MO, Mansur C, Myczkowski ML, Moreno RA, Marcolin MA. Transcranial magnetic stimulation accelerates the antidepressant effect of amitriptyline in severe depression: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Biological Psychiatry. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15652875/ 2005 Jan 15;57(2):162-6.