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About TMS

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) involves a series of short magnetic pulses directed to the brain to stimulate nerve cells. Since 1985, research has been conducted with TMS to understand and treat a number of neurological conditions (i.e. migraines, Parkinson’s disease, tinnitus) and psychiatric conditions (i.e. depression). Most recently, researchers have been focusing on the use of TMS as a treatment option for major depressive disorder.

The magnetic energy released from the TMS device passes through the skull easily. The energy is directed to access brain structures that thought to control mood (limbic system). Stimulation is limited to a small area and therefore has little effect on the surrounding tissue

How is it done?
The client remains awake during the procedure and can return to normal daily activities immediately following (no medication or anesthesia required). The client will be sitting comfortably in a recliner throughout the session. A treatment is approximately 40 minutes long.

What risks are associated with TMS?
TMS has been reported to cause seizures, but the risk is low except for those with epilepsy or those taking doses of buproprion (Wellbutrin) higher than 300 mg/day. At CAMH, we do not allow individuals in either of these categories to receive TMS.

Other possible side effects are: 

  • involuntary eye blink or contraction of facial muscles (these are NOT painful and do not continue following the stimulation)
  • mild headache or shoulder stiffness, which usually goes away within 24 hours or with administration of acetaminophen (i.e. “Tylenol”)

Who can receive TMS?
You can receive TMS if you are experiencing symptoms of depression and have a diagnosis of Major Depressive disorder.  You may remain on any antidepressant medication that you are currently taking.

You must NOT:

  • have a history of epilepsy or other seizure disorder
  • have any metallic implants
  • have a history of drug abuse within the past six months
  • have any serious unstable medical condition
  • be pregnant or attempting to become pregnant

 The Science behind Magnetic Stimulation

Rapidly changing magnetic pulses cause electrical charges to flow within the brain. This current can cause neurons to become active, specifically those thought to be underactive in individuals with depression.

The activity change is thought to be a mechanism through which treatment occurs. The amount of electricity created is small and cannot be felt by the client.​
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