Frequently Asked Questions about TMS
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a method used to treat depression by stimulating the brain non-invasively using pulsating magnetic fields. The magnetic field generated during the TMS therapy session is similar in strength to those produced in an MRI. During TMS therapy, a pulsating magnetic field is focalized and administered in very short pulses to a targeted area of the brain.
TMS uses short pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate a targeted area of the brain. When a magnetic field fluctuates or pulsates, it is able to induce very small electrical currents in conductive materials nearby. The electrical current produced from the pulsating magnetic fields can be used to excite neurons within the brain.
The most common side effects reported during clinical trials are: scalp discomforting, mild headache – occurring at the stimulated area, and mental fatigue. The occurrence of side effects becomes less frequent after the first two weeks of treatment.
TMS is a well tolerated means of neurostimulation and has been proven to be a safe form of neurostimulation therapy used in clinical trials. Over 10,000 active treatments have been performed in clinical trials, demonstrating its safety with no occurrences of seizures. However, there is a small risk of a seizure occurring during treatment so precautions are necessary.
TMS was approved by Health Canada in 2005, and by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 as a safe and effective alternative means to antidepressant medication for the treatment of depression.