The most effective treatment for depression has been Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), also known as “shock treatment”. Such treatment involves stimulation of the brain with electricity to produce a seizure.

Most recently, research since 1985 on stimulation of the Central Nervous System with magnetic impulses has introduced a new treatment to the armamentarium of treatments for Major Depression and other severe depressive disorders.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) offers the hope of the effectiveness of ECT without the need for seizures, anesthesia, memory disturbance, time off work, or other problems associated with the provision of ECT.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation applies a powerful magnetic force to a place on the outside of the patient’s head corresponding to a particular area of the brain, the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area shown to have hypo-activity in depressed patients.

TMS has recently been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Depression that has failed to respond to at least one medication.

The active treatment will cause some sensations associated with the magnetic stimulation. These sensations are usually a minor distraction and well tolerated by the patient. Most importantly, in our experience, TMS causes few of the problems associated with ECT: memory loss, the need for anesthesia, intravenous medications, loss of consciousness and temporary disability.

Demitrack MA, Thase ME. Clinical significance of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in the treatment of pharmacoresistant depression depression: synthesis of recent data.Psychopharm Bull.2009, 42(2(: 5-38).