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Will TMS Work for Me? What If TMS Doesn't Work?

Will TMS Work for Me? What If TMS Doesn't Work?

Published: May 17, 2022

Antidepressant medications and psychotherapy fail to alleviate depression symptoms in many people. However, a new lifeline has been discovered in recent years, offering treatment-resistant depression patients an alternative treatment process.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive alternative treatment for major depressive disorder. Despite its proven effectiveness, many patients fear TMS treatment will not work for them.

As we know, different people respond to other depression treatments. Read here to learn more about TMS and its effectiveness in treating depression.

What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

TMS is an FDA-approved treatment option typically used for patients where standard treatment for depression does not work. If a person has been unsuccessful with multiple antidepressants, it is likely to work.

Studies have shown that nearly 60% of patients noted improvement in their symptoms after just one course of treatment, and almost 40% achieved complete remission.

The therapy uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in areas of the brain associated with mood and depression. Effectively, this 'resets' the brain and aids in symptom relief of major depression.

It can be seen as a noninvasive alternative option to electroconvulsive therapy.

What Is The Process?

The process involves a medical professional placing a magnetic coil over a patient's head. These then generate magnetic pulses, which are sent through the brain to create change in specific brain areas involved in mood regulation, such as the prefrontal cortex.

A standard TMS plan requires patients to attend the treatment site, typically a doctor's office, five days a week for around four to six weeks, with treatment sessions lasting between 3o to 40 minutes.

Most patients experience extremely mild to no side effects that last less than several weeks. Symptoms that may be felt after treatment are:

  • Mild headaches
  • Tingling sensations

Additionally, no adverse long-term side effects have been associated with TMS treatments.

People may worry about the effects of prolonged exposure. However, the magnetic fields used are similar to those in MRIs and even use a smaller fraction of this exposure.

What is TMS Therapy Used to Treat?

TMS is used to treat a range of mental health conditions. Primarily it is used to treat depression and is recommended for those who haven't found relief from other treatments; research has suggested that around 30% of people don't respond to standard anti-depressants.


In 2018 the FDA recognized TMS to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). A study found increased activity between the prefrontal cortex and striatum in patients with OCD. TMS can help relieve some of this activity and reduce OCD symptoms.


Mental health professionals have suggested that TMS may also ease anxiety disorders as, much like depression and OCD, it is a psychological disorder that all-cause anxiety symptoms.

A person with anxiety often has increased nerve cell activity in the prefrontal cortex. A study found that TMS reduces the activity in this area of the brain and aids in relieving a patient of depression and anxiety symptoms.


The founder of GIA has led research into the effectiveness of TMS as a treatment option for addiction. It was found that TMS can reduce alcohol consumption and can increase the number of days of sobriety as part of a treatment program.

What Is The Success Rate?

Research has found that 50% to 60% of patients with severe depression who have been unsuccessful with alternative treatment have experienced a significant improvement in symptoms after TMS. Around one-third of these patients experience complete remission, with symptoms being eradicated.

The success rate is very dependable on what is being treated. More research is needed to determine the success rate of working for other mental health conditions. However, the research so far is promising.

Read more: Might be tms for me?

What If TMS Doesn't Work?

Although TMS is an effective treatment that has been proven to help the vast majority of patients, it does not work for everyone. But that does not mean that there is no hope!

Depression is a medical condition that requires trial and error when determining the right treatment plan for each patient. It is essential to have regular check-ins with your psychiatrist to find the right combination of treatments that work for you.

Several actions can be taken if you do not find relief from your mental illness on your first course.

Tweak Supplemental Treatment Methods

Typically when undergoing treatment, a patient combines TMS with alternative options, such as medications or therapy sessions.

If it is not working, it is essential to question supplemental treatment methods, like is your medication working? Adjustments can be made to this, such as the dose or changing to a new drug, or if your therapy sessions help learn coping mechanisms and attempt to address the root problem.

Confirm Your Diagnosis

There have been cases where people with bipolar disorder have been misdiagnosed with depression. TMS has not received much research in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Suppose you have a family history with bipolar disorder or experience symptoms of hypomania or mania. In that case, it is advised to get a second opinion on your diagnosis from a healthcare professional.

Related article: Why someone might say TMS ruined my life?

Try Alternative Therapies

If you decide that TMS is not for you, there are alternative treatment options available.

Ketamine has recently been noticed as a fast-acting medication that relieves the effects of depression.

Electroconvulsive therapy is another alternative, although it is only recommended if all other treatment has failed; there is a risk of experiencing intense side effects, and it requires a hospital stay.

Will TMS Work for Me?

Many people try TMS when other treatment methods do not work. It can be a life-changing experience, with two-thirds of people achieving complete remission after treatment. But it is important to note that the TMS experience does not work for everyone.

Contact us today to learn more about TMS and discuss whether it is the best alternative treatment method for you.

TMS Treatment at GIA

TMS is a life-changing treatment that can immensely improve a person's quality of life. It enables people to experience a relief of mental health symptoms, allowing them to resume normal activities in their day-to-day life straight after treatment.

Our treatment center offers the most advanced and up-to-date, evidence-based treatment individualized to suit each patient's needs.

We accept several insurance coverages, and many insurance providers cover TMS therapy.

To find out more, contact us today for a free consultation.

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