The Pros and Cons of TMS Therapy for Depression

Posted on: 13 May 2020

Depression can be incredibly debilitating. So often, patients become frustrated when they try treatment after treatment and find that nothing fully alleviates their symptoms. Treating depression is complicated, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, if the more popular medications and treatments have not given you relief, there are other options, one of which is TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation. This treatment, which delivers magnetic field pulses to certain nerves, has helped many patients with depression. Here are a few pros and cons to consider as you decide whether TMS therapy is right for you.

Pro: It's an outpatient procedure with zero recovery time.

TMS does not require you to stay in a hospital or spend days at home recovering. You can stop by your doctor's office for a treatment partway through the day, and then return to your workday. There won't be any serious pain or side effects that force you to take precautions or rest afterward.

Con: You will have some red marks on your face and head after treatment.

The one so-called side effect of TMS treatment is red marks at the treatment sites. You'll have a couple of marks on your forehead and a few farther back on your scalp, under your hair, where the coils were placed. Some patients do not mind this at all, but if you work in an industry where your appearance is vital, it could be a small hurdle to overcome.

Pro: It's not a medication.

Medications for depression have to be taken at the same time each day. They can cause side effects like erectile dysfunction, and getting the dose correct can be tough. TMS is not a medication, which allows you to sidestep all of these difficulties. Some patients do find it works best when used in conjunction with certain medications for depression, but still, it does not add an extra layer of side effects or dosing difficulty on its own.

Con: You do have to set aside the time for treatment.

You will have to set aside time in your schedule for the appointments. A single session typically takes about 45 minutes, and you'll need to have a few treatments per week at first. Then, you can probably cut down to one or two treatments per week in the coming months. This can be a lot of time for some patients to set aside.

If you can set time aside for the procedure, and the red marks don't bother you, then TMS might be a great option for treating your depression. Talk to your doctor to learn more.