What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive and effective treatment for mental health conditions.

TMS works by changing patterns of brain activity associated with mental health conditions. TMS is applied by a coil positioned above the head, and delivers magnetic pulses to a specific brain region. 

The magnetic pulses can either increase or decrease activation of nerves in a brain region. The effect is that patterns of brain activity between brain regions associated with the mental health condition are normalised. 

What can TMS Treat?

 TMS has the most evidence for treatment of depression.

What other therapies are used in treatment resistant depression?

In treatment resistant depression (TRD), TMS has comparable efficacy to ECT and further medication trials. 1 ECT is used in the most severe cases of depression. Medication strategies involve trialling different types of medication or combining medications. 

How does TMS work in depression?

 In a person with depression a large brain region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) tends to be under-active in its communication with other brain regions that regulate mood. 

TMS stimulates the DLPFC, which normalises its communication with the other brain regions. This effect is associated with the reduction of depression symptoms.2

  1. Papadimitropoulou, Katerina, et al. “Comparative efficacy and tolerability of pharmacological and somatic interventions in adult patients with treatment-resistant depression: a systematic review and network meta-analysis.” Current medical research and opinion 33.4 (2017): 701-711.
  2. Fox, Michael D., et al. “Efficacy of transcranial magnetic stimulation targets for depression is related to intrinsic functional connectivity with the subgenual cingulate.” Biological psychiatry 72.7 (2012): 595-603.