Frequently Asked Questions

What does TMS actually do?

TMS treatment involves placing a coil near your head during brief outpatient procedures. The coil is a magnetic field generator, and it uses magnetic pulses similar to those employed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. These pulses are highly focused and create small electric currents in specific areas of your brain where low activity causes depression. Although you will not feel the electric currents, they activate neurons and enhance brain functioning.


Is TMS like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

TMS is not electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Unlike with ECT, TMS does not require the use of anaesthesia and is not intended to cause seizures. TMS does not cause confusion or memory loss, both of which are common with ECT. For these reasons, patients often prefer TMS to ECT.

Am I a good candidate for TMS?

If medication and/or therapy has been ineffective in treating your depression or you cannot tolerate the side effects of antidepressants, you may be a good candidate for TMS. TMS is also an alternative treatment for those who cannot receive electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or are reluctant to try ECT.

You may not be eligible for TMS if you are susceptible to seizures or have metal in or around your head. Our experts would be happy to consult with you to determine whether TMS is appropriate treatment for you.

What are TMS treatments like?

TMS treatment involves brief outpatient procedures performed while the patient sits in a chair. On average, patients attend five 20 to 40-minute sessions per week for five to six weeks. You will be able to travel on your own to and from appointments and resume your usual activities immediately after each session as there is no negative effect on cognition or alertness. You will remain awake during these short, non-convulsive, non-invasive procedures.

Does TMS hurt?

TMS treatments should not hurt, although some patients may have minor headaches or mild scalp discomfort, which typically subsides after the first few treatments.

What are the risks and side effects of TMS?

TMS is safe, nonconvulsive, and noninvasive brain stimulation. TMS does not require the use of anesthesia and is not intended to cause seizures. It is not systemic, meaning it does not circulate throughout the body like prescription drug therapy.

TMS treatments should not hurt, although some patients may have minor headaches or initial scalp discomfort which typically subsides after the first few sessions. TMS does not cause memory loss. Your magnetic field exposure, which throughout the full course of the treatment is less than you would receive from an MRI, is minimal.

Will TMS treatment be effective?

TMS is one of the most effective procedures available for depression. TMS has been in use since 1985 and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008. Dr. Bruno has successfully treated hundreds of patients with TMS and achieved the following outcomes:

  • Over ¾ of patients have had a significant response (at least 50% improvement in severity of their symptoms of depression).
  • Over 1/3 of patients have had a full remission (almost all symptoms of depression resolved).

Why should I try TMS again if I’ve had a depressive relapse?

Although most patients stay better long-term after a successful course of TMS, depression can be a recurrent condition. Some patients receive booster sessions  for recurrence of depression or may benefit from maintenance sessions to prevent depression from returning.

How long do the benefits of TMS treatment last?

The majority of patients are remitted of their symptoms of depression for over 12 months.

Can I take antidepressant medication while receiving TMS?

Yes. TMS therapy can be safely and effectively used with or without antidepressant medications.

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280 Madison Ave, Suite 1102,
New York, NY 10016

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