Comparing the pros and cons of TMS Therapy for depression

The Pros and Cons of TMS Therapy

by | May 8, 2023 | Blog

Is TMS Therapy Right for You?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is a non-invasive, alternative treatment for depression. TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain. For depression treatment, protocols have been established to target the left prefrontal cortex. The left prefrontal cortex is involved in regulating mood and emotions, stimulating this area, and allowing for targeted treatment to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Approved for depression by FDA in 2008, TMS therapy has since been tested in over 50 clinical trials and numerous studies; recent research suggests it could also treat anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and substance use disorder.

TMS therapy has changed how we view depression treatment in behavioral health. It has been hailed as a breakthrough treatment. TMS therapy has already demonstrated remarkable success in treating depression, but its potential for addressing other mental health conditions remains largely untapped. As more research is conducted and greater awareness is raised, it’s possible that TMS therapy could provide a groundbreaking solution for individuals with a wide range of mental health challenges.

Choosing the right treatment path for depression or mental health is a personal decision that requires careful consideration. It’s crucial to research, consult a mental health provider, and dedicate yourself to the journey, no matter your chosen treatment path. Whether considering TMS therapy or other options, relief is possible. It’s essential to remember that everyone’s recovery from depression is unique, just like the depression itself. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and what works for one person may not work for another. By taking the time to make an informed decision, you can take an important step toward improving your mental health and overall well-being.

Exploring the Pros and Cons of TMS

By exploring the advantages and disadvantages of TMS therapy, you can make an informed decision that fits your specific needs and circumstances. Our goal is to assist in your journey towards taking charge of your mental health; step one is collecting facts.

Pros of TMS Therapy

TMS therapy has emerged as a promising alternative treatment for depression, offering several benefits for individuals seeking relief. Below are some of the advantages of TMS therapy:


TMS therapy is a non-invasive treatment that doesn’t require anesthesia or a recovery period. Patients can do their treatment, get into their car, and go about their day-to-day activities.


TMS is a non-drug therapy for depression, making it non-addictive and without systemic effects on the body, unlike medications.

Low Risk of Side Effects

TMS therapy is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, with few reported side effects. The most common side effect is mild-to-moderate scalp discomfort, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Effective for Depression

TMS therapy is highly effective for treatment-resistant depression. It can provide much-needed relief for individuals who have not responded well to traditional treatments (medication and talk therapy). Studies have shown that TMS therapy can significantly reduce depressive symptoms and improve the overall quality of life, with response rates as high as 83% and remission rates as high as 62%. However, it’s important to note that response rates can vary depending on the severity of the condition, treatment duration, and specific TMS protocol used.1,2

Improved Cognitive Functioning

TMS therapy is associated with improved cognitive function, especially for individuals who experience cognitive issues due to depression. Several studies have investigated the effects of TMS on cognitive performance, including attention, memory, and executive function. 3,4,5

Cons of TMS Therapy

TMS therapy is a promising treatment for depression, but weighing the potential drawbacks is an essential step. Here are some of the cons of TMS therapy for depression treatment:

Limited Availability

TMS therapy is limited in availability, making finding providers difficult in certain locations. This may present a barrier for people living in rural or remote locations or those unable to travel for treatment.

Potential Side Effects

Like any treatment, TMS therapy has potential side effects. These can include headaches, scalp discomfort, and facial muscle twitches. While these side effects are generally mild and go away after treatment, they can concern some individuals.

Limited Awareness

TMS therapy is not widely known among those who could benefit from it. This lack of awareness is partly due to the dominance of pharmaceutical lobbying in mental healthcare. Many people are unaware of TMS therapy as an alternative to medication because it is simply not promoted in the same way.

Cost of TMS

One of the main drawbacks to TMS therapy is its expense; it may require a significant financial commitment. However, for those who qualify for insurance coverage, it can become a financially accessible option.

Contraindications of TMS Therapy

The main contraindications for TMS therapy are metal in or around the head and a history of seizures, making TMS unsuitable for some individuals. Expect this to be one of our first questions during the consultation process.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of TMS Therapy

If you’re considering TMS therapy as a treatment for depression, it’s important to approach the decision thoughtfully and with the guidance of a qualified mental health provider. TMS therapy offers a non-systemic, non-pharmacological option with research-backed results. While no treatment is perfect, TMS therapy can provide remarkable benefits for people struggling with depression.

At BestMind Behavioral Health, we leave no stone unturned to ensure patient safety, comfort, and overall well-being. We recognize that mental health treatment is a personal choice; consulting with a mental health provider experienced in TMS therapy is the best way to help determine whether this treatment is right for you based on your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about TMS therapy for depression with a no-cost consultation.


1. Berlim, M. T., Van den Eynde, F., & Daskalakis, Z. J. (2013). Clinically meaningful efficacy and acceptability of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for treating primary major depression: A meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind and sham-controlled trials. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(4), 543-551.

2. Sackeim, H. A., Aaronson, S. T., Carpenter, L. L., Hutton, T. M., Mina, M., Pages, K., Verdoliva, S., & West, W. S. (2020). Clinical outcomes in a large registry of patients with major depressive disorder treated with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Journal of affective disorders, 277, 65–74.

3. Liston, C., Chen, A. C., Zebley, B. D., Drysdale, A. T., Gordon, R., Leuchter, B., … & Dubin, M. J. (2014). Default mode network mechanisms of transcranial magnetic stimulation in depression. Biological psychiatry, 76(7), 517-526.

4. Rosenberg, S. D., Husain, M., Devanand, D. P., Tricamo, E., Hasan, M. M., & Mandell, A. J. (2000). Cognitive effects of treatment with electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with major depression. The Journal of ECT, 16(3), 253-256. doi: 10.1097/00124509-200009000-00010.

5. McGrath CL, Glue P, Loo CK, et al. (2018). Efficacy and safety of transcranial magnetic stimulation in the acute treatment of major depression: a multisite randomized controlled trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 75(7), 663-671. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0990​