Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique used to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders. A body of research with many studies conducted worldwide over many years has found that TMS is effective as an antidepressant. It is approved as a treatment for depression in Australia by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

TMS is especially useful for people who have not responded to or who cannot tolerate other treatments, for example when medications are causing intolerable side effects.

TMS can also be used in combination with psychological and medication treatments.

We aim to use TMS to reduce symptoms, improve functioning, and overall wellbeing.

At Shellharbour Psychological Medicine TMS is always prescribed by a TMS trained Psychiatrist. During the treatment itself you are monitored by either one of our Psychiatrists or another qualified Doctor (Medical Practitioner). Many TMS clinics utilise nursing staff or other technicians to administer the treatments, Shellharbour Psychological Medicine do not do this, we only allow the administration of TMS by qualified Medical Practitioners (Drs).


How does TMS work?

TMS uses highly focused magnetic pulses to fire up neurons in the area of your brain that regulates your mood.

Depression causes an underactivity in certain areas of the brain. TMS gently stimulates this area back to its normal level of activity. This area then sends signals to other areas of the brain restoring overall wellbeing and facilitating recovery.

TMS is administered multiple times per week and usually takes around 30 sessions to be fully effective.


Are there any side effects?

As with any treatment or intervention (including psychological therapy), there are potential side effects.

Side effects are generally mild to moderate and improve shortly after an individual session and decrease over time with additional sessions.

The most common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
  • Tingling, spasms or twitching of facial muscles
  • Lightheadedness

Serious side effects are rare. They may include:

  • Seizures
  • Mania, particularly in people with bipolar disorder
  • Hearing loss if there is inadequate ear protection during treatment

TMS is not suitable for the following conditions:

  • If you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
  • If you have any metal or implanted medical devices in your body. In some cases, people with metal implants or devices can have TMS. However, due to the strong magnetic field produced during TMS, the procedure is not recommended for some people who have the following devices:
    • Aneurysm clips or coils
    • Stents
    • Implanted stimulators
    • Implanted vagus nerve or deep brain stimulators
    • Implanted electrical devices, such as pacemakers or medication pumps
    • Electrodes for monitoring brain activity
    • Cochlear implants for hearing
    • Any magnetic implants
    • Bullet fragments
    • Any other metal device or object implanted in your body


What are the specific benefits of TMS?

TMS offers a number of benefits, particularly when used as part of a wider treatment program.

Non-invasive treatment, nothing enters your body or bloodstream and there are no needles are used.

No anaesthetic is required.

TMS can help people who suffer side effects from medication.

You are awake and alert during the treatment and can go straight to other activities as there is no recovery period required.