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Benefits and Risks of TMS

Like any form of alternate therapy, there are benefits and risks associated with TMS.

Benefits of TMS

The benefit to patients undergoing TMS may include a life free from depression and less antidepressant use. Some patients may be able to stop taking antidepressants altogether.

It is a drug-free treatment and can be used safely in combination with your current treatment regimen. It may work faster to improve your mood, understanding and everyday function compared to antidepressants and psychological therapy.
It has a shorter treatment time of 4-6 weeks compared to antidepressants and psychological therapy, which range from a few months to lifelong therapy. It is not invasive and doesn’t require admission to hospital or anaesthesia like ECT does. Treatment in an outpatient clinic allows you to carry out daily life, rather than being admitted to hospital.
It can be more effective than medication and is recommended for patients who have not responded to antidepressants. TMS does not have the side effects associated with antidepressants and ECT.
TMS does not cause memory loss, weight gain, sexual difficulties and is not damaging to your scalp or hair growth. TMS can be stopped at any time, there are no withdrawal symptoms.

What risks are involved?

Generally TMS is considered safe and well tolerated. However, it can cause some side effects. Side effects are generally mild to moderate and improve shortly after an individual session and decrease over time with additional sessions.

Risks may include:

  • Headache or localized neck pain - treated with mild analgesia
  • Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
  • Tingling, spasms or twitching of facial muscles
  • Light-headedness

Serious side effects are rare, but may include:

  • Seizures
  • Mania, particularly in people with bipolar affective disorder
  • Short term hearing loss if there is inadequate protection during treatment
  • Retinal detachment