Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive treatment that stimulates the brain. rTMS is used for multiple reasons, including treating tinnitus, depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. Even though rTMS is used to treat so many different disorders, the main benefits are the same.

Here are the top 5 benefits of rTMS.

No sedation or anesthetic

Sometimes undergoing a procedure that involves sedation or anesthetic can be a health risk, and even cause a lot of fear and anxiety. Sedation and anesthetic can have a lot of negative side effects, like vomiting, confusion, cognitive dysfunction and delirium. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy, rTMS doesn’t require sedation or anesthesia, which minimizes a lot of the risks.

Few side effects

rTMS has shown very few negative side effects or safety risks. Only 10-30% of patients experience some discomfort caused from facial muscle twitching or headaches. However, there is a risk that rTMS can cause a seizure, especially in patients who have diagnosed epilepsy. So, proper screening should be done before participating in rTMS.

Quick onset

According to the University Health Clinic at Western Hospital in Toronto, 1 in 3 patients experience remission of their depression after 20 to 30 sessions. They also found that another 1 in 3 patients 60% improvement in their symptoms. Unlike some medications that take weeks of adjustments in dosage, rTMS patients may see improvements within the first week of treatment.

No recovery period

Since rTMS doesn’t require sedation or anesthetic, there is virtually no need for a recovery period after a session.

Cognitive improvements

Oftentimes depression causes cognitive impairments. On top of symptom improvement, rTMS patients see an increase in cognitive functioning. Research has shown that high-frequency rTMS improves attention, memory, and executive functioning such as decision making and reasoning.   References
  • Anderson, B., Mishory, A., Nahas, Z., Borckardt, J. J., Yamanaka, K., Rastogi, K., & George, M. S. (2006). Tolerability and safety of high daily doses of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in healthy young men. The Journal of ECT, 22(1), 49-53.
  • Garcia-Toro, M., Salva, J., Daumal, J., Andres, J., Romera, M., Lafau, O., . . . Aguirre, I. (2006). High (20-hz) and low (1-hz) frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation as adjuvant treatment in medication-resistant depression.Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 146(1), 53-57. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.librweb.laurentian.ca/docview/621923560?accountid=12005
  • Tringali, S., Perrot, X., Collet, L., & Moulin, A. (2012). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: Hearing safety considerations. Brain Stimulation, 5(3), 354-363.
  • Nadeau, S. E., Bowers, D., Jones, T. L., Wu, S. S., Triggs, W. J., & Heilman, K. M. (2014). Cognitive effects of treatment of depression with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 27(2), 77-87.
  • Wölwer, W., Lowe, A., Brinkmeyer, J., Streit, M., Habakuck, M., Agelink, M. W., . . . Cordes, J. (2014). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) improves facial affect recognition in schizophrenia. Brain Stimulation, 7(4), 559-563.