Please refer to literature review: Valente, S. Fisher, D. (2010) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Major Depression; The Journal of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. for more information.
According to Valence, for treatment resistant depression, “transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) offers a painless and non-invasive alternative using magnetic fields to correct brain activity.”
Major depression is a serious and debilitating illness which is associated with a high cost of morbidity and mortality each year, including increased risk for suicide, cardiovascular disease and substance abuse compared to general population. Approximately 20-40% of patients will present with treatment-resistant depression where TMS may be a viable option that is both painless and non-invasive.
So far TMS has been shown to improve mood and memory in depressed patients and has fewer side effects than medications and ECT. Research suggests that TMS improves functioning of the low performing areas of the brain that control mood. “The magnetic impulses may target different areas of the brain to reverse the depressive symptoms and low performing regions” of the brain, producing an electrical current that passes through a magnetic coil placed on the scalp next to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. “The magnetic pulse can focally stimulate the cortex by using electrical currents that depolarise superficial cortical neurons” approximately 2 cm under the scalp itself.
Common side effects include headache, facial tingling or discomfort at the magnetic field site which usually resolve over about a week. Less common side effects include seizures, induction of mania or hearing loss from noise. Contraindications to treatment include cardiac pacemaker, pregnancy, poorly controlled migraines or metal implants to the head.