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TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) Side Effects & Adverse Reactions (List)

TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is a neurostimulation technique that uses magnetic field generators (in the form of coils) to emit targeted electrical currents that stimulate the cortex.  TMS is believed to improve neurological functioning via stimulating activity in hypoactive regions of the brain that are contributing to a particular pathology.  For example, individuals with depression often exhibit hypoactivation of the left prefrontal cortex.

Targeting the left [dorsolateral] prefrontal cortex with high frequency TMS tends to activate neurons in this region, ultimately upgregulating cortical activity.  The upregulation of cortical activity and release of neurotransmitters facilitates mood improvement.  For this reason, the FDA approved the first TMS device called the “NeuroStar” in 2008 for the treatment of depression.

Many individuals find TMS for depression appealing due to the fact that it isn’t associated with significant side effects such as dry mouth, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction – as are commonly experienced on pharmaceutical drugs.  While TMS is often an effective non-pharmacological treatment for those with depression, it doesn’t work for everyone.  Furthermore, despite the fact that TMS doesn’t involve ingestion of exogenous drugs, the technique can still cause (potentially unwanted) side effects.

Factors that influence TMS side effects

It is important to consider several factors that influence side effects of TMS.  These factors include: the type of TMS therapy, parameters, and competency of the TMS practitioner.  In addition, it is important to understand that individual variation (genetics, habits, lifestyle) may indirectly influence the intensity, duration, and number of side effects that you experience.

  1. TMS Device Settings

Most TMS devices are preprogrammed with ideal parameters for stimulation.  These preprogrammed parameters make it relatively easy for professionals to follow in terms of administration.  As of present, there is solely one device called the “NeuroStar” approved for the treatment of depression, and specific parameters must be followed by professionals.

However, assuming one of these parameters is slightly adjusted and/or a new type of TMS stimulation is being tested – there may be more (or less) likelihood of side effects.  For example, most research suggests benefit of stimulating the left prefrontal cortex with high frequencies for depression, but another set of parameters involving stimulation of the right prefrontal cortex with low frequencies has demonstrated efficacy; these tactics may yield different side effects.

  • Coil types: Expect there to be some diversity of TMS coils on the market in forthcoming years. The variation in the types of coils used are known to generate slightly different effects on the brain, contributing to different side effects.  Coil types are subject to variation based on their shape (structure), materials, and specific pulses they emit.  Examples of different types of coils include: H-coils, figure-eight coils, and iron-core coils.
  • Duration of session: For TMS to elicit a therapeutic antidepressant effect, sessions are typically conducted between 20 and 60 minutes. The longer the session, the increased likelihood of side effects due to increased length of neural stimulation.  The shorter the session, the less likely you’ll be to experience long-lasting side effects.
  • Frequency: Some believe that the higher the frequency of stimulation, the greater likelihood of side effects. High frequency stimulation is typically conducted on the left hemisphere, and an example of a frequency used for stimulation could be 10 Hz.  Low frequency is typically conducted on the right hemisphere, and an example could be something like 1 Hz.  It is important to note that as of 2015, solely the 10 Hz frequency has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression.  All other frequencies are deemed “off-label” until they are proven effective.
  • Intensity: The intensity of the magnetic pulses can be programmed, but in many cases they are preprogrammed. For experimental research, the recommended intensity output is between 50% and 70% of maximum capacity.  Some researchers have worked with higher degrees of intensity, possibly increasing the reported rates of side effects.
  • Localization: Prior to the procedure, professionals should locate the precise region of the brain that is being stimulated. Due to individual differences in anatomy, an expert should not simply “guess” where to place the coil for the TMS procedure.  The usage of fMRI neuroimaging is beneficial to pinpoint the specific region that will require stimulation.  In some cases the localization is based on “standard space coordinates” which may lack accuracy.
  • Pulsation intervals: The intervals between TMS pulsations can be adjusted by professionals conducting experiments. The FDA approved TMS device called the “Neurostar” has a specific interval of pulsations that must be followed.  That said, any “off-label” or experimental adjustments in pulsation intervals (milliseconds) may increase and/or decrease likelihood of side effects.
  1. Competency of practitioner

Most practitioners of TMS are well-educated and informed regarding best practices.  In other words, they will inform their patients of the potential risks and do everything in their power to minimize risk of side effects and/or adverse reactions for their patients.  Prior to treatment with TMS, they will conduct a neurological screening to ensure that the patient is an ideal candidate for treatment based on medical history.

Additionally, the practitioner should know how to properly program and utilize the TMS unit.  Improper programming of parameters may result in inadequate therapeutic response, and increase likelihood of side effects and/or adverse reactions.  For example, if a practitioner isn’t following a proven protocol such as high-frequency stimulation to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – side effects may be more likely.

Failure to properly position the TMS unit and/or negligence on the part of the professional could increase likelihood of side effects.  Therefore, it is imperative to work with a highly-trained, skilled, and seasoned TMS practitioner rather than someone less qualified.  Practitioners of lesser competence and/or with poorer attention to detail may increase risk of side effects.

  1. Type of TMS therapy

There are two primary types of TMS that are currently approved for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.  Standard, repetitive TMS involves repeated stimulation to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at high frequencies. Sessions with rTMS typically last between 20 and 60 minutes.

By comparison, deep TMS sessions are thought to last 15 to 20 minutes, and penetrate the cortex approximately 3 times the extent of rTMS.  The deeper stimulation of cortical regions may trigger more side effects.  In addition, rTMS is thought to be more targeted, whereas with deep TMS, the specific regions being stimulated aren’t as well understood – this could lead to slightly different side effects between the two techniques.

  • Standard rTMS: Standard TMS stimulates the brain up to 2.5 cm beneath the cortex. This effect is considered targeted, but limited to neurons within the outermost regions of the cortex.  It is thought that since neurons deeper within the cortex aren’t directly stimulated, there’s less likelihood of side effects.  Therefore standard rTMS may carry less side effects than deep TMS.
  • Deep TMS: Deep TMS may trigger different side effects than standard, repetitive TMS due to the fact that it delivers an effect deeper beneath the cortex. Compared to repetitive TMS which only penetrates the cortex up to 2.5 cm, it is suggested that deep TMS penetrates up to 6 cm – stimulating deeper regions of the brain.  The fact that deep TMS stimulates portions of the brain that aren’t stimulated by rTMS could trigger different side effects.
  1. TMS Regimen

It is important to consider that your specific TMS regimen may be responsible for triggering certain side effects.  The number of pulsations (stimulations) per session, how frequently you engage in TMS, and total number of sessions may influence side effects.  Those that engage in more sessions have stimulated their brain to a greater extent, which could increase (or even decrease) side effects depending on individual neurological changes.

  • Pulsations per session: Most practitioners follow an FDA approved protocol for the treatment of depression and deliver the same number of pulsations per session to all clients. That said, despite following a protocol, there could be some variability between number of pulses per session based on how a client feels.  In addition, pulses may be tweaked during clinical trials and/or research experiments.  It is important to consider that the number of pulsations could influence side effects.
  • TMS scheduling: TMS is typically scheduled as a daily treatment for a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Someone who receives treatment daily for several weeks may adapt to the treatment and find that side effects improve over time.  In other cases, an increase in the number of TMS sessions may exacerbate existing TMS-induced side effects.  Adjusting the scheduling of TMS may aid in reduction of side effects.

Note: Current TMS schedules require daily treatment for 4 to 6 weeks, but should research determine that other scheduling protocols (e.g. every other day or bi-weekly) are effective, perhaps these can be utilized with success among those who dislike daily treatments.

  1. Individual variation

In some cases, two individuals may receive TMS from the same practitioner, targeting the same cortical site (e.g. left DL-PFC), with the same parameters.  However, these two individuals may report notable differences in TMS side effects.  One person may experience a headache, dizziness, and toothache, while the other may feel a little lightheaded with no other effects.

It is important to consider that individual brain structure, drug interactions, genetics, perception, and even the time of day TMS is administered – may all influence perceived side effects.  Two individuals receiving TMS could have very different baseline neurophysiological patterns – one person may be depressed from hypoactivation of the left prefrontal cortex, while the other may exhibit limbic dysfunction causing them to feel depressed.

These differences in baseline neurophysiology may subtly influence side effects that a person experiences.  Certain patterns of neurological activity based on neuroimaging may be more (or less) likely to experience substantial side effects.  Moreover, it is also important to consider that the side effects attributed to TMS may be due to another factor (e.g. medication).

TMS Side Effects & Adverse Reactions (List)

Below is a comprehensive list of side effects and adverse reactions that have been reported after transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).  Keep in mind, most people do not experience every single side effect listed below and some people experience no side effects at all.  Most common side effects associated with TMS are headaches and scalp discomfort – both of which tend to subside after the first week of treatment.

  • Anxiety: The idea of getting your brain jolted with electricity generated by magnetic pulses may provoke a bit of fear prior to treatment. It is common to feel anxious before your first treatment, and especially during the first week of treatment.  Most people find that the TMS improves their level of anxiety, but certain side effects and/or the thought that your brain is getting jolted may trigger anxious thinking.  As you become more comfortable with the treatment, anxiety levels should diminish.
  • Discomfort: For certain individuals, the neurostimulation from TMS therapy is uncomfortable. This discomfort is generally most intense across the scalp region and may linger after each of your sessions.  While it is rare for discomfort to become extreme, a small percentage of individuals discontinue TMS because their scalp burns, they have a headache, and notice skin irritation.  Coil positioning and stimulation settings can often be tweaked to minimize likelihood of discomfort.
  • Dizziness: Many patients report dizziness during the TMS procedure and following each session. The dizziness is generally transient and may fade within minutes and/or hours after administration of TMS.  Others may notice that dizziness lingers for a longer duration, but as they adapt to the stimulation, the feelings of dizziness subside.
  • Eye pain: It is estimated that eye pain occurs in less than 5% of all patients receiving TMS. Some people report transient pain behind their eyes that tends to subside after several weeks.  This pain is thought to be at its peak immediately after treatment, and gradually gets better with time.  Others may notice that they experience pain in just one eye, which could be related to the portion of the cortex receiving stimulation.
  • Facial pain: Despite the fact that your face isn’t being directly stimulated by the TMS unit, the neural stimulation may have widespread effects which could impact your face. For this reason, many individuals report facial pain following a TMS session.  The facial pain is usually mild to moderate intensity and not severe.  The sensation of facial pain is thought to last a week or two before diminishing.
  • Facial twitching: Some sources estimate that 1 out of 3 individuals experience “facial twitching” during and/or after TMS sessions. This twitching in the facial muscles is caused by intense electrical stimulation that penetrates the cortex.  Most people are able to tolerate a bit of twitching and find that the twitches improve over time.
  • Fainting: Another extremely rare adverse effect from TMS is the risk of fainting. Fainting may be caused by a variety of things including: intense pre-TMS anxiety, neural stimulation and cascade effects, and/or drops in blood pressure during treatment.  It should be reiterated that fainting is highly unlikely to occur during TMS.
  • Headaches: Among the most common side effects reported by those receiving TMS is that of headaches. The headaches experienced as a result of TMS are usually of mild to moderate intensity, but in rare cases may be severe.  For most individuals, headaches are most intense during the early stages of treatment and improve after several weeks.  It is important to mention that some people notice improvement of preexisting headaches after TMS.
  • Hearing loss: The pulses generated by the TMS coils are thought to range from 80 decibels to 92 decibels – depending on the programmed settings. Therefore, it is highly recommended to wear earplugs (or some form of hearing protection) to minimize likelihood of noise-induced hearing loss.  Most professionals require patients to wear hearing protection throughout the procedure so that they can walk away with normal hearing.  Should you fail to properly insert your ear plugs and/or not wear them at all – you run the risk of TMS-induced hearing loss.
  • Lightheadedness: A fairly common side effect associated with TMS is lightheadedness. The lightheadedness may be accompanied by a headache and dizziness.  It could occur during TMS therapy or may emerge after a session.  It may also occur during therapy and linger for awhile after each session.  Most people don’t have an issue tolerating temporary bouts of lightheadedness.
  • Mania: Most studies suggest that TMS isn’t likely to provoke mania in an individual suffering from the depressive phase of bipolar disorder. That said, an extremely rare potential adverse reaction is “mania” triggered by TMS.  Understand that mania or hypomania could theoretically emerge temporarily among individuals without bipolar disorder.  As the brain recalibrates itself following TMS, the mania may be transient.  That said, should you or a practitioner notice mania, it is important to seek professional help.
  • Memory impairment: Some reports have documented the possibility of temporary memory impairment as a result of TMS. Understand that memory impairment is considered a rare adverse reaction and transient in nature.  In other words, even if your memory is temporarily jumbled from TMS, there’s no evidence to suggest that this effect will linger.  In fact, some reports suggest TMS may improve memory.
  • Nausea: Some people end up feeling nauseated as a result of TMS. This nausea is thought to be more common in the early weeks of treatment due to the fact that the brain is not accustomed to the external stimulation.  A combination of side effects such as lightheadedness, dizziness, and headaches could exacerbate these temporary bouts of nausea.  The nausea is generally not severe enough to provoke vomiting.
  • Numbness: TMS may cause a person to feel numbness in the head and/or facial regions during (or after) treatment. While tactile sensation isn’t usually lost, a person may feel as if it is blunted, particularly in the area of the head exposed to the TMS.  In rarer scenarios, individuals may notice that the numbness affects other regions of the body.
  • Scalp pain: You may notice that your scalp feels incredibly painful during TMS and/or post-procedure; this is an extremely common side effect. This pain may be concentrated in the area of the head positioned beneath the coil, but may also be prominent across a wider portion of the scalp.  The pain may be of moderate severity, but could be more intense for certain individuals.
  • Seizures: The risk of experiencing a seizure from TMS therapy is approximately 0.1% – meaning it is highly unlikely. That said, assuming you have epilepsy and/or a history of seizures, it is important to discuss this with your TMS practitioner.  In a clinical trial of over 10,000 TMS treatments – no seizures were reported.  Therefore, seizures should be considered an extremely rare adverse reaction.
  • Skin pain: A relatively odd sensation that some people notice during TMS and/or after the procedure is skin pain. This skin pain may be accompanied by irritation, and most commonly occurs in the location of the scalp subjected to the stimulation.  However, for other individuals the pain may be more widespread.
  • Spasms: Some people experience facial spasms and/or spasms in other bodily regions as a result of TMS. These spasms may be uncomfortable for certain individuals, but they are generally not a major concern.  Spasms in certain regions such as the face are fairly common, but do not typically persist for an extended duration of time.
  • Tingling: It is possible to notice a tingling sensation throughout your head during TMS and after the procedure. This tingling is a side effect of small-scale electrical stimulation and neurological changes facilitated by the TMS procedure.  Tingling sensations are generally well-tolerated and subside after a person has completed treatment.
  • Tinnitus: An adverse effect of TMS is that of tinnitus or “ringing in the ears.” Some individuals find that TMS actually helps preexisting cases of tinnitus, but it may exacerbate it in others.  Obviously the primary culprit for tinnitus as a result of TMS could be due to improper installation of hearing protection (ear plugs) or failure to wear hearing protection.  Protect your ears throughout treatment and this adverse effect is usually avoided.
  • Toothache: If you notice that you develop a toothache (or all of your teeth ache) following TMS, you are not alone. A small percentage of those engaging in TMS notice that their teeth feel funky and/or start to hurt after the stimulation.  This is a side effect that occurred in clinical trials at double the rate of a placebo (sham-TMS), but only affects less than 5% of people.
  • Vision problems: Temporary changes in your visual field may be noticed immediately after TMS. These visual abnormalities aren’t thought to be actual problems with your eyes, rather changes in brain functioning as a result of the TMS.  Alterations in regional activation and neurotransmission may trigger things like blurred vision and/or eye floaters – both of which normalize in time.

How long do TMS side effects last?

Most evidence supports the idea that side effects from TMS are most prominent during the first 2 weeks of treatment.  Individuals receiving TMS often notice that side effects emerge and are most intense within the first week of treatment.  After a full week of treatment, many report that side effects have significantly diminished and/or completely subsided.

In other cases, side effects may linger for 2 to 3 weeks, but clear up halfway through the 4 to 6 week treatment schedule.  It is relatively uncommon for severe side effects to persist throughout an entire 6 week treatment protocol.  Even then, many of these individuals notice that the side effects diminish quickly upon completion of the full 6-week treatment protocol.

Assuming you are experiencing severe TMS-induced side effects, it is important to communicate them to your practitioner.  Some people find that taking an over-the-counter medication can combat certain symptoms, especially headaches.  Proper sleep, diet, and exercise can also be extremely helpful for recovery from and prevention of side effects.

Do the benefits of TMS outweigh the side effects?

Most people who partake in TMS therapy end up completing an entire 4 to 6 week protocol of daily sessions.  Only a very small percentage of those who engage in TMS find that the side effects are so intense, that treatment must be discontinued.  Assuming you’ve tried TMS for a condition like depression, it is always important to evaluate whether the attained benefits of TMS outweigh the side effects (and financial costs).

If you’ve tried medication after medication without satisfactory symptomatic relief, any improvement in mood derived from TMS may be considered so monumental, that a person may not even care about side effects.  Assuming TMS therapy significantly improves your mood, you may be willing to put up with every side effect in the book; it may be a worthy sacrifice.  On the other hand, if you only attain marginal mood improvement, side effects may not be justified.

Since most people don’t experience significant or unwanted side effects from TMS, the benefits usually end up outweighing side effects for the majority of individuals.  That said, if side effects are severe and minimal (or no significant) benefit is derived from TMS, you may want to pursue other treatment modalities in the future.

Have you experienced any side effects from TMS?

An appealing aspect of TMS is that it isn’t associated with significant side effects.  Upon comparison to pharmaceutical antidepressant side effects that can include: weight gain, sexual dysfunction, stomach aches (gastrointestinal pain), constipation, diarrhea, and dry mouth – TMS side effects are considered relatively benign.  For this reason, many people are often willing to give TMS a shot over pharmacological options.

Assuming you’ve used transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of depression, mention whether you’ve experienced any side effects in the comments section below.  If you experienced side effects, discuss: when you first noticed them, whether they persisted throughout treatment (or diminished), as well as their intensity.  Also share whether the side effects lingered after the 4 to 6 weeks of treatment and/or whether you ever contemplated discontinuing TMS as a result of side effect severity.

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{ 96 comments… add one }
  • Kris Soloman November 11, 2015, 1:00 am

    During treatment, my primary problem was feeling exhausted after the treatments. I slept up to three hours before I was able to function. I also found the treatments painful and difficult to tolerate. During treatment, I began to experience increased memory problems, difficulty concentrating, starting one task and moving to another, forgetting that I had been working on another task.

    I find myself to have little energy for daily living tasks, and recently have been on complete bedrest for two days. In my view, these treatments are more like ECT than the patient is led to believe. They did not help my depression, so I discontinued the treatments with three yet scheduled. I would not recommend TMS. Kris Soloman

    • Monica Dias May 13, 2016, 4:25 am

      Kris, now that 6 months have gone by, do you feel any better?

  • Sandip Srivastava January 27, 2016, 8:47 pm

    TMS did not relieve my depression and made my tinnitus much worse than before. My tinnitus is so loud now that I am unable to get proper sleep.

    • Kate October 3, 2016, 10:04 pm

      Hi, How many treatments did you have? I am very concerned about worsening tinnitus. Is your depression any better now?

  • Alan February 21, 2016, 10:55 pm

    TMS has left me way more depressed than when I started. I wasn’t on meds before TMS now had to start because it made my depression so much worse. One can get worse from it. You won’t read that on any website. My doctor was terrible and has been reported.

    • Laura June 22, 2016, 6:26 am

      Alan, I also had a very bad experience with TMS. I went to TMS for medication resistant depression. In my case, it has caused me to have constant anxiety. It started around the 5th week. My anxiety has gotten so bad, I am now in my 3rd week of not being able to work. After one of my TMS treatments, I had a 2-hour panic attack. My doctor tried to make adjustments and blame other factors, but none of the changes worked. Who did you report your doctor too? I would like to do the same. I was not told that I could end up worse after TMS. I was only told that it would work or it wouldn’t.

      • Crystal March 18, 2017, 3:28 am

        My daughter went for TMS to help her with depression and OCD. Her anxiety is much worse now and has destroyed her life. Did your anxiety get better or not?

  • Alan March 4, 2016, 4:33 am

    TMS ruined my life. I had nausea & dizziness in the beginning. Doc brushed it off. I cause insomnia during treatment. It made my depression so much worse and the insomnia. It activated me after the 19th session. I felt like I was on speed and could not fall asleep. I stopped after the 21st session I should have stopped earlier, the doc was very bad. I was NOT on meds before TMS, now Im on meds and can’t sleep and cry from depression that wasn’t there before TMS. People need to know this that you can get much worse from TMS. I’m living proof.

    • Noel jones April 23, 2016, 11:22 pm

      Alan, my husband now suffers from continuous nausea. Started before the 4 the week of treatment but med center kept insisting it was not caused by TMS. He quit treatments and after many visits to gastro doctors and internists, no explanation except TMS. Hope this will go away… now 2 months out.

    • Susan May 22, 2016, 2:20 pm

      Can I ask why you had TMS if you did not have Resistant Depression, or Bipolar?

      • alan June 18, 2016, 9:01 pm

        I had treatment resistant depression. Problem was I would just lay around and not do much. Once did TMS is made my depression so much worse. I felt so sick and depression wasn’t unbearable. I had to go on Meds to fix what TMS did to me. It’s almost 5 months later and I’m still bad. I had a bad reaction to it. I wish I never did it.

  • Melissa May 11, 2016, 1:50 pm

    I have now completed three treatments. All I can say is that it is way more painful than I was led to believe. The first time I felt it I nearly jumped out of the chair. The whole top and right side of my head hurt very much. I am constantly told that it will get better and I’ll get used to it.

    I’m finding that very difficult to believe. I would have preferred it if they had been honest about the pain possibility from the beginning. Instead, I feel betrayed and lost any hope of this helping me at all.

    • Susan May 22, 2016, 2:39 pm

      I was not informed either, of the severe pain during treatment. They said “mild discomfort”. Moreover, I was not informed of the extreme mood dips, jaw pain, earache and increased fatigued. I’ve only had 4 treatments, but I’m finding it very stressful thinking I have 4 more weeks of this, and having to negotiate public transport for 2 hours after each treatment feeling like I’ve gone five rounds with Tyson. Feeling less enthusiastic and more skeptical. I was certainly painted a more rosier treatment picture that what I’ve experienced.

      • alan September 1, 2016, 6:53 pm

        Would you mind sharing your TMS results if you continued. Thx

    • Kate October 3, 2016, 10:08 pm

      Hi Melissa, Did you finish the treatment? Is your depression any better. I just started and have many concerns after reading all of these comments.

    • Sally October 30, 2016, 12:24 am

      I have only had one treatment so far and the pain was so intense, I cried all the way through it. I have treatment resistant depression plus a host of comorbidities, so I’m willing to continue on the basis that I hope it will help in at least one area of my mental health.

    • Arielle February 13, 2017, 1:35 am

      Same with me! They told me it would be a mild tapping, when instead I felt like someone rocked me in the face. I was also told the headaches would go away a few minutes after the session and that having a headache later was probably in my head.

  • gms May 21, 2016, 8:39 pm

    I am halfway through a six week course of treatment. This followed a year of the worst recurring depression of my life (I’m 66), including an extended hypomanic episode which led to a bipolar II diagnosis. TMS was offered when my suicidal thoughts were becoming constant.

    I’m happy to say that my side effects have been minimal; moderate headache a few times early on, some nausea, afternoon fatigue leading to unaccustomed dozing off after getting home at 1pm, and a fairly strong stinging at each pulse once maximal dose was reached. I also had some twitching and even jumpy hand movements at first which were resolved once the coil location was adjusted to better avoid the motor areas.

    Occasionally, I’ve done some slow, deep abdominal breathing but my most effective means of coping is listening to one audio book (only at TMS) with a good set of noise reducing ear buds, and just carrying on. The fact that I’ve started to register actually feeling slightly better as of this week means that I’m letting myself feel some hope start to shine upon me. It also helps, of course, that my psychiatrist is friendly and inspires confidence, and the TMS tech is lovely and patient. I hope this evaluation helps others.

    • Kate October 3, 2016, 10:12 pm

      Hi GMS, Did you finish treatment? Have you lost the suicidal thoughts? Have they stayed away? I have had 7 treatments and no improvement yet. I guess I’m looking for honest answers if this really helps. Thanks, KMS

  • Chiquitita June 15, 2016, 9:10 am

    First treatment today. When they were making the adjustments, I suddenly felt woozy. Then I started feeling nauseated. I asked them to sit me up and asked for the trash can just in case. Then I started to pass out. I sat there for what seemed like forever pouring sweat and barely conscious not sure if I was going to vomit.

    I finally came around, they put a fan on me, lowered the lights and this time I kept my eyes open. They finished adjustments, and I did maybe a half treatment and everything went fine. My husband sent me an email notifying me that nausea and dizziness are actually rare side effects. I’m not quick to blame it on TMS, however, because I usually have similar episodes about twice a year, just not as severe.

    Besides that I only came away with a headache, and, maybe it’s psychosomatic, but I feel better. Perhaps that’s just because I feel I have something to be hopeful about.

  • Candy July 2, 2016, 2:51 am

    I completed my 15th treatment today. I’ve had some side effects that no one told me about until I read them in this article. Mentioned issues to RN and my Doc, they say these things are from meds. I don’t think so. No headaches in the beginning, but I have been very nauseous, twitching in face and lips, toothaches, dizzy and lightheaded, very tired.

    Now I’m suffering from migraines and sharp pains shooting through my head all through the day. Recently vision is very blurred for about an hour after, itchy head and itchy face, mostly on left side. Still trying to be optimistic and continue until 6th week. No noticeable difference in my MDD, anxiety or mood.

    Doc still trying to get the right cocktail of meds, nothing seems to help bring me out of this awful depressive state. Also had ECT, few years back; felt great for 3-4 months, then depression hit hard all over again.

  • CLN July 18, 2016, 4:50 pm

    My son who is 18 did TMS and got way worse. Then insurance stopped paying for the treatments so he received 18 sessions out of 30. He had no improvement what so ever and anxiety and depression are much worse. 4 months later. If we had known there was a chance it could get worse we would have considered it with more scrutiny. The Dr did not mention before we started and seemed shocked when we followed up after and had no solution for him. Still looking for an answer to his issues.

    • alan September 1, 2016, 6:55 pm

      Hows his depression? Mine never went back to before TMS levels.

  • Steve July 20, 2016, 5:31 pm

    I completed 6 weeks of treatment about 3 weeks ago. The treatment did not help with my depression. I now have severe headaches everyday. My opinion is TMS is a complete waste of time and money.

  • William Allan July 30, 2016, 9:26 am

    My Doctor is trying to sell the idea about this treatment. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD. The thought of having my brain triggered scares me. The what if’s… are really scary.

    • Renee January 24, 2017, 3:57 am

      As far as I have researched TMS is not approved in the US for PTSD. Maybe you also have Major Depression. I have depression & anxiety & after the regular protocol they do an anxiety protocol & it’s helped my anxiety. Treatment hasn’t helped my depression yet but I’ve only been through 5 sessions.

  • Jen August 3, 2016, 5:41 pm

    Started TMS 6 weeks ago. I am on number 30. About three weeks ago I started feeling very nauseous and have diarrhea each morning and not much energy to do much. I would say it has improved my mood slightly but it’s a huge commitment to go five days a week everyday and if you have a high functioning job, it most likely won’t fly. I was told you could work daily around these treatments and there is absolutely no possibility with this much fatigue and nausea and brain fog to do that.

    If you have a low functioning job without any stress, I’m sure it would be fine. When I asked why they say most patients can work during treatment, it was explained that majority of the patients are low functioning and do not have stressful executive positions. I will update 3 weeks post and let you know if it was all worth it.

    I hear it helps many so I would say try it and don’t give up. I wish you all the best! On a positive note, I didn’t experience headaches often at all. ;)

  • Jen August 13, 2016, 4:48 am

    This was one of the worst experiences I have been through. Like others I was told this is painless with no side effects. It consumed my whole day. Nothing was working. They changed protocol three times. Every day I was so tired I couldn’t function. I had nausea and headaches and had to sleep every day after I got home.

    I asked them about this and at first they said most people feel rejuvenated. Over time they admitted being tired is a more common side effect. I quit after 28 sessions. I just couldn’t take any more. It’s been a week and I feel like my brain is swollen. I hope it isn’t. I have to go on meds and am afraid to because I still don’t feel well.

    I never should have done this. I feel they lied about the whole experience. I really should have questioned more when there is so little information about this procedure out there. I feel I have wasted so much time I could have used to get better. My PCP confessed he thinks it’s a hoax. Maybe it works for some people but I had a very bad experience. Has anyone else experienced long term side effects after stopping TMS?

    I’m hoping they go away soon.

  • Jackie August 30, 2016, 2:51 pm

    In my opinion, TMS is horrible and definitely not for everyone. I wish I researched more as to the adverse side effects but this information is very difficult to find. I am on my 12th treatment, and my depression has never been worse. Part of me wants to just stop, and part of me wants to keep going, hoping that its just the whole it gets worse before it gets better idea. My meds haven’t changed at all yet during treatment, so I know it can’t be that. Plus I am totally wiped out after treatment, and have started to have progressively worsening headaches. Not sure that TMS is for me!

  • Meghan September 24, 2016, 4:57 pm

    I had a terrible response to TMS. My depression is much worse; and my capacity to write, which was one of my greatest assets and primary modes of self expression has suffered significantly, leaving me in a state in which I cry and scream instead. I used to talk to myself to process things and now I cannot do that.

    I was not informed that TMS could impair verbal working memory, nor that I was receiving Deep TMS until I had already experienced these side effects. I hope and pray that they will go away. All and all a VERY disappointing experience, as I had read wonderful things about it.

    PS-I have also experienced that “brain is swollen” feeling that Jen describes. It has been 5 months since my last treatment.

  • Jeff October 4, 2016, 4:34 am

    I had my first treatment today. The pain was absolutely unbearable. It felt like a hammer to my head. My left eye squinted close at each pulse. They lowered the intensity and tried again. Same exact intense pain and burning around my left eye. Then they moved the machine again – this time further to the front and center of my head. Again, it felt like a hammer to my head AND brain.

    Terribly painful. In addition, the doctors seemed confused and unsure about everything from the intensity, to the placement, to the pain. I jumped out of the chair, ripped the headgear off my head and told them no freaking way! I asked if others had this same reaction and the doctor told me that yes, some patients find it very painful. This is something that they NEVER mentioned in the consultation.

    Not even a PEEP about anything negative. Now this site is making me really glad they only got three or four pulses on me. No way I will do this after reading how people got WORSE – but even if I wanted to continue, there is no way I could with the pain. By the way, four pulses was all I had and it gave me a headache and made me tired and confused AND I am having trouble typing this message.

    I am inverting and misspelling words. I have proofed this comment and made a lot of spelling fixes. It was a mess.

    • Jeff October 30, 2016, 5:42 pm

      This article contains 1000% more information than the UCLA TMS office gave to me before hooking me up to a machine that was set too high and felt like it was smashing my head with a hammer. If I didn’t know better I would have assumed that I was being subjected to some kind of military torture. While it seems probable that clinical studies are showing that TMS may have benefits to sufferers of depression it is also very clear that this technology is at the very beginning of it’s discovery and that it will take many years to figure out how to use it, how to reduce side effects and whether or not it has causes long term damage.

  • Jon October 18, 2016, 6:30 pm

    Jeff’s experience is exactly like mine, except that I tried very hard to survive the full session. The pain was unbearable and nausea persisted for a whole day. My mind is discombobulated and memory is not working well. I have stopped any further treatments to protect my health from further ravages. While TMS may not be a total scam, it is marketed with much dishonesty so that greedy docs can get their almighty payday. Be careful and be lucky or you will regret this “miracle cure” for a long time.

  • Steve Ludwig October 31, 2016, 3:16 am

    It sounds like TMS is becoming a money maker – most insurance now covers it, smaller centers are now building out with more equipment and more advertising. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with “how effective” it is, but it does mean that this business is good. I have a friend who (after a year) still claiming he has permanent damage from his treatments. No thanks!

  • ed November 13, 2016, 3:25 pm

    I just finished week two of TMS therapy. I have never had a headache before, but now I am getting them in the mornings. No other noticeable side effects, but I’m scared of headaches. I don’t need a new problems.

  • Bill November 18, 2016, 2:00 am

    These comments about TMS are so unfortunate. Most of them sound to me like operator error, especially those with intense pain. I run a TMS clinic and we never have these problems, I wonder why. We screen very carefully, listen to the patient very carefully, start with a low nearly pain free intensity and slowly work up, talking to the patient the entire time.

    We use the Brainsway deep TMS as it is far less painful then other types. I feel so bad for those that have had this. Our only side effect has been one older gentleman with an alcohol history not responding to anything. Bill

  • Sheri November 20, 2016, 2:15 pm

    I can definitely say it’s helping me. I’ve finished treatment #20 so far. Knock on wood I have not had any side effects except for some hair loss along my hairline on the left side. Reading through the other comments I have to say I’m surprised that so many people find it painful. The first jolt always gets me but I wouldn’t say it’s painful.

    My doctor did bilateral treatment for the first 15 now I am just doing 17 minutes on the left side for the remaining 37 treatments. I suffer from PMDD and now that I am completely free of Prozac the PMDD is horrible. Obviously the treatment is not going to help that but if I don’t have to suffer from debilitating depression I will find a way to combat PMDD naturally.

    My doctor is Dr. Kenneth Pages in Tampa Florida he is very caring and knowledgeable. I can email him anytime to ask questions and his staff of techs are awesome too. I still lack motivation but the dark cloak is lifting, even though I still have really bad days – there are more good days than bad. I will take it! I am a little over halfway through, I will write an update once I’m finished.

    • Izzy November 21, 2016, 10:31 pm

      I am also with Dr Pages and I agree, he and his staff are incredibly amazing. However, my treatment is excruciating. The intensity required for my brain to respond is very high, so it is pure torture for me. Are you finished with your treatments?

      • Sheri November 25, 2016, 9:25 pm

        Hi Izzy, After today I have 11 more to go. I have to say I’m feeling pretty great this was probably the first thanksgiving that I can remember that I actually wanted to cook and be with my family. I have been crying a lot lately… not in a bad way just I think I’m in shock that this is actually working for me. It’s nice to talk to someone that is going to Dr. pages as well! I’m so sorry that it’s so painful for you I guess I’m fortunate that I have a low threshold for pain! How many treatments have you had so far?

    • Frank December 7, 2016, 10:16 pm

      Sheri, I can’t wait till you are finished! How is it going? What type of machine is it? Single pulse or burst type?

  • Christy November 21, 2016, 5:55 am

    I have to say that I find these comments startling. When looking at the studies it is very clear of the effectiveness of TMS therapy. I was a TMS tech for approximately 4 years and would say around 70-80% of patients receiving TMS therapy at the psychiatric practice I worked for verbalized a significant decrease in their depression symptoms. Of course we were able to quantify this by performing depression measuring scales every 1-2 weeks to track their progress.

    These measurement scales further validate these claims of decreased depression symptoms. I would also like to suggest there are ways to adjust the coil and decrease the strength of the pulse to aid in tolerability and minimize discomfort. This can be done by a skilled TMS technician with a little bit of patience and approval by the prescribing psychiatrist.

  • Bill November 21, 2016, 1:18 pm

    Thank you Christy and Sheri for sharing a different experience. We had three calls from patients who was seen at another provider in our area. The first and most alarming asked if the coil is supposed to be so hot? This means a service that sees one after another patient without taking the time to allow the coil to cool, another said it hurt so bad and that when she complained the MD told her that it is supposed to hurt, the third had ongoing jaw and head pain.

    All of these are operator error, poor practice and demonstrate a real ignorance of how to use a good technology. Patients beware and call around before you go. Ask what they do if it hurts too badly, if the patient experiences headache or jaw pain. Ask the moderator of this list if you can contact me via email to ask questions. We answer questions and a real person answers the phone!

    • Sheri November 25, 2016, 9:34 pm

      Wow that sounds awful! I did a lot of research before starting the treatment, I guess I’m really fortunate that I found Dr. Pages office!! The office is very warm and welcoming, clean, modern. They have four chairs all of which are in separate rooms once they adjust the machine to your head you get to pick whatever you want to watch on Netflix and they dim the lights. The tech stays with you the entire time to monitor and talk to you, if you want. What you described is exactly why it took me so long to make the decision to do the therapy.

  • Jeff November 22, 2016, 8:01 pm

    All I can say is that this is a total disgrace. Can you imaging if half the MRI operators out there were doing it wrong and hurting people? What the hell is going on with TMS? This is the United States for gods sake. We are supposed to have top quality medical care. Listen you guys, I went to freaking UCLA TMS and let me tell you – the facility looked like 1960s Soviet Union.

    The waiting room was an unused classroom. The physician interview room was a vacant unused office, where they sat me in an old office chair next to an unused desk and the doctor pulled up a folding chair to talk to me and give me info about the treatment I was going to get. All the staff was confused and unsure of what they were doing. The best I can describe it was, well, did you ever see the Three Stooges?

    We yes, that is what it was like. First, in the part where they try to determine your treatment intensity, they could not figure out how to get my finger to twitch so they could not determine the correct intensity level for me. Next, it was clear that the doctor did not know how to program the machine. He asked help for two other people – and when they finally put the damn device on my head and administered the torturous SMASHING of my skull – THREE TIMES, they finally ran out of the room to get another doctor to try to help them figure out what the hell they were doing wrong.

    Needless to say, I ran out of there and never looked back. I did get an apology from the director of the program – BUT what the hell? There is something very seriously wrong here folks. By the way, I was told that my intensity was set at 1.5 on the Neurostar machine. Is that high for a first treatment?

    • Bill November 23, 2016, 5:05 pm

      Jeff, Another pathetic excuse of treatment providers. This is so dismaying. So many don’t seem to have trained well and even a college may be using this technology as income generating. Once again there is no reason to feel the level of discomfort so many have described.

      There is a way to find the MT or motor threshold that is what predicates the intensity of the stimulus. So often people don’t how to do this accurately and follow just what the Neurostar indicates while research shows this is often not accurate. There is something called an EMG that attaches to the thumb to show the practitioner that the stimulus is activating the thumb without a twitch.

      Some turn the intensity up so high to achieve a thumb twitch that the application of the treatment is far too high and therefore very painful. Anyone who wishes to correspond about this and needs guidance about TMS I am available at wshryer[@]behaviorquest.com. I also plan on contacting Neurostar to let them know that there are far too many folks using this equipment without proper training as the complaints mentioned here should not be happening.

      • Jeff December 1, 2016, 8:22 am

        Wow, you just blew my mind, because now it is starting to make sense. Here is how they did it. One guy was at the machine while another was staring at my fingers. Guy number 1 would send a single pulse through head and guy number two would shake his head no. This went on for 15 minutes. Now as they were doing this, I clearly felt a sensation in my thumb many times throughout the procedure.

        They never told ME to let THEM know when I felt a sensation. They told me that they were looking for the intensity to make my thumb twitch. So long after the power was enough to cause me a sensation, they got my thumb to twitch at what I am assuming is a much higher power setting then needed. Again, let me remind you that this was UCLA here in CA. That is a world famous university and medical institution.

  • Tmsmd November 28, 2016, 6:45 am

    I also am surprised by the unfortunate experiences. Similar to Bill’s comments, Provider experience, training and a thorough explanation of what to expect before, during and after treatment are all very important skills when considering TMS as an option for patients. In my opinion, anyone experiencing severe intolerable pain during treatment should stop treatment. Just like medications, suffering through pain or side effects to relieve depression, is not an answer. The TMS Provider should reassess location, be sure of all parameters and consider starting at a lower motor threshold so that a patient feels comfortable with the treatment.

    Jeff – 1.5 on a NeuroStar is an average number with my experiences but again the biggest concern is not the numbers, it is the experience with the Provider determining the parameters for treatment. There are also a number of factors to consider when starting at treatment. One being if someone is currently on medications or recently stopped because some medications can inhibit a “normal” motor response to the magnetic pulse during an initial mapping resulting in a higher motor threshold. Again this is an example of Provider experience and training.

    For anyone considering TMS Treatment, looking for negative results online may deter you from deciding on having the treatment but I would encourage people to ask questions before during and after treatments. The experiences and ongoing studies for the use of TMS in dementia, Anxiety, OCD, PTSD and post stoke patients are positive so look at the Provider’s experience with TMS and ask what TMS machine are they operating. Be an active part of the treatment process and stop if it’s painful. TMS should NOT be a painful experience.

    Having studied and applied many different treatment protocols other than for Depression, and helped many people come off of medications with the use of TMS, I’m happy that the field of Psychiatry is able to offer something less invasive to ECT. For the people on here who have had a negative experience with TMS, It would be interesting to know what type of TMS was provided (dTMS, rTMS, Brainsway, NeuroStar, MagStim, MagVenture, etc).

    • Bill November 30, 2016, 1:52 pm

      TMSMD, A first name would be nice, however I have to agree with all of your comments. Most of the providers I come across use the Neurostar equipment and it is probably the easiest in the hands of the poorly trained to cause pain in my opinion. However any piece of TMS equipment in the hands of the “butts in the chair gang” can cause pain.

      The people in our area that have called complaining of hot coils, extreme pain have found the most poorly trained and should not be performing this often life saving treatment. Please if you know someone who is having this experience, please let others know not to use this provider. Boards like this are one medium just for this purpose.

      Also if there are those reading this that are willing to let us know the type of equipment used, such as Neurostar, Brainsway, Magventure or Magstim, please let the group here know.

    • John Shore January 7, 2017, 3:24 am

      Just finished Treatment #30, it has allowed me to let go of guilt I have felt after losing my job to a back injury and having to rely on my wife to support our family of 7. I have had some minor side effects, brain fog, headaches, nausea, shaking hands. By far the one that has me worried is most is hair loss, I was working on a new hair style prior and a buzz cut is in my very near future.

      I can honestly say no pain whatsoever. Sorry to hear such negative results for others but as soon as I finish, my son who is post stroke, post heart attach and has suffered a TBI will be heading in for treatment. I say what don’t kill you, hell it don’t matter many of us were having those dark thoughts prior to considering TMS.

      Good luck to all and there are no magic pills or treatments, accept “healthcare.”

  • Lily December 2, 2016, 3:54 pm

    I was considering doing this treatment but am reluctant now. Since the majority here have had an overwhelming negative response – You should consider filing a class action lawsuit against the respective TSM providers/docs. Find a lawyer who is willing to do it.

    Then find others on this forum and however else who have also suffered adverse effects. These providers/doctors need to be held accountable for their deception, negligence, and lack of training. This needs to get to court!!

    If you are worried about the money for the lawsuit, remember you are not paying anything. The doctors will have to pay in the end because the plaintiff/group will win. Get as many people as you can with negative responses. You could try private messaging others on here and talking to others leaving the centres after treatment.

    • Bill December 3, 2016, 1:26 pm

      Lily, The overwhelming majority of those receiving TMS has not been negative, just here on this list. This is a new technology and it will take a while to sort it out. Perhaps you and a group should sue all of the MD’s that prescribed antidepressants that caused far more side effects and provided no results?

      Things like weight gain, sexual side effects, nausea, suicidality, mania, brain fog, blurred vision to name but a few. Remember the pharmaceutical companies hide these side effects from the prescribers fairly well. Few patients I know were told of all the side effects of medications either.

      • Sheri December 7, 2016, 1:31 pm

        Could not agree more. Six years ago I went to a psychiatrist only to see the nurse practitioner. She put me on Prozac and klonopin, I felt great for about six months then the side effects began. For the last five years I have lived in hell with constant diarrhea, dizziness, heartburn, headaches, heart palpitations, you name it!

        I only wish instead of going straight to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions I would’ve gone home and researched each medication thoroughly. I am completely off Prozac and plan to start weaning off of the Klonopin. The Prozac withdraw literally had me in bed for a month and after 3 months I still have brain wooshes when I first wake up every morning. The TMS treatments?

        I drive myself to my appointment every day and I go back to work after my appointment, absolutely no side effects. At the beginning I had a little bit of a headache but that was like cakewalk after what I’ve been through. I found a great doctor and feel blessed that I have.

        If your treatment hurts or makes you twitch or any horrible painful side effects during treatment it’s wrong. For people truly wanting to get better I really believe this treatment works! You have to find the right doctor in your area, don’t give up because it’s totally worth it!

        • Frank December 8, 2016, 10:07 pm

          Sheri, Could I ask how much Klonopin you are on, for how long and frequency of use (every day)? Do you mean that you are having TMS therapy while on Klonopin?

        • Lily December 20, 2016, 8:32 pm

          Bill and Sheri, I’m only trying to offer help to those who feel they’ve been wronged/have severe, prolonged side effects due to TMS such as seizures, dizziness, etc. Thats not something one should take lightly. If the technicians were not trained properly, many more will suffer if something isn’t done about it.

          Same goes with allopathic medicine. I’m not arguing that all techs or TMS is bad. But to prevent further harm, these specific technicians need to be held accountable. They need further training!! Just because allopathic medicine causes harm doesn’t mean, these Techs should get away with it too. That’s absurd.

          What I’m suggesting IS problem-solving. You are the ones being negative/biased. It’s like with vaccines. In the US one can no longer sue a manufacturer even if it can be proved that the paralysis, death, immune or mental impact was a result of the vaccine.

          These manufacturers were losing billions. Now there is no accountability at all. Speaking up is essential to promote change. I’m sure you are doing a great job Bill and I thank you for that. My comment was not aimed at you or other competent techs. Peace.

          • Arielle February 13, 2017, 2:01 am

            Hi Lily, I appreciate your comment and I understand what you are saying. This is from someone who has suffered negative side effects from allopathic medication, and was told, incorrectly, that there are no lasting side effects of rTMS. If such side effects are the result of incompetence, then yes, there needs to be accountability. Period.

    • Sheri December 4, 2016, 4:21 pm

      Your comment is so sad, a perfect example of why our society is so screwed up. The first thing you think about is lawsuit! Do you know how many people this treatment has helped??? myself included!? This place is for people to contribute their stories – good and bad. The only thing I can think of is that you’re so severely depressed and angry that this is your only way of communicating.

      Yes there are good and bad doctors whether it be psychology, psychiatry, family doctors, pediatricians neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons… My point is you have to do your research to find the right doctor for you. But please don’t discourage others by your rhetoric. TMS does work.

      • Bill December 5, 2016, 4:23 am

        Sheri, Thanks for your comments. We have been doing TMS for several years now and our patients become like family, due to being seen every day. We have never had complaints like I have read here. Your suggestions for anyone seeking assistance due to sever and unremitting depression is spot on. There are basically two type of people in the world, problems finders and problem solvers. Those who are the second type are the pessimists of life. TMS in the right hands can be a life saver. In the wrong hands it becomes part of the problem.

        • Arielle February 13, 2017, 2:09 am

          With all due respect Bill, as a person suffering from negative side effects from TMS I believe it’s important to spread the word that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns; keeping quiet is not the way to make things better. I understand that you are advocating a treatment that works wonders for some people, but it seems as if you are suggesting that those with negative experiences, the problem finders, should just lay down and think of London.

          That’s ridiculous. How on earth does one solve a problem without bringing it to the forefront? Instead, why don’t we acknowledge that the issue should be aired so that those interested in TMS know all sides of the story, not just the rosy one the providers want to dole out.

  • Frank December 6, 2016, 11:13 pm

    OMG This is scary. Just started day 2 of TMS on the MagVenture in Kingston Ontario. Feels like rapid burst type machine. I have slight headache, lightheaded. Treatment has been uncomfortable but not painful so far but the nurse is working up the dose slowly. During the pulses my jaw twitches back and forth.

    I have had very severe depression and anxiety for two years prior to this (longer story). Tried ECT and meds and this is last resort. I can’t believe so many negative comments are posted here. Makes me want to bail out. Please someone post something encouraging!!! Also how many of you had an MRI scan before you started treatment? I did not receive one.

    • Bill December 7, 2016, 3:10 am

      Frank, What is your motor threshold? It should be somewhere under 60%. If the pain is awful have them lower the stimulation power. If your jaw twitches ask them to move the coil off that nerve. For some with a complete jaw twitch we use small mouth guards. I picked these up and for two of our patients they find this very comfortable: http://www.target.com/p/dentek-night-guard-16-count/-/A-17435403. My point here is that if your providers are not talking to you and trying to find a solution they are the problem.

      • Frank December 7, 2016, 9:59 pm

        Bill, My motor threshold is high. I think it is 94%. When I asked what percentage I was at today at day 3 she showed me 30%. This was very discouraging as it is already starting to be painful right at the coil site. The jaw thing is not really bad yet.

        In my case there is complications as I am currently taking 4 mg of diazepam (valium) which they explained to me would reduce the efficacy of treatment, but I’ve been tapering down for 10 months from 1 mg of clonazepam (=20mg of valium) with excruciating withdrawal and this is the best I could get to. This is how I became extremely depressed in the first place. Doctor prescribed addiction nightmare and is another topic.

        I can’t keep tapering and waiting any longer for treatment. If you know anything about “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome” you will understand the predicament I’m in. They did not explain the PAIN ramifications inherent with a higher threshold that results from benzodiazepines. I was only given a vague “you should get down to such and such a level of specific benzodiazepines with no explanation why.

        My treatment is covered by ohip so it’s difficult to get a comprehensive solution through discussing anything. I spoke with the Psych Dr. in charge before the treatment and am supposed to see him after. He won’t offer me any solutions.

        The nurse operating the machine says she’s just there to give me the treatment. She says she will only give me the percentage I can tolerate but it doesn’t look promising that I will get to therapeutic level at this rate. Thanks so much for your reply/info. Is your clinic in Canada Bill?

        • Bill December 8, 2016, 4:27 am

          Frank, Once again another sad excuse for a treatment provider. I am in California however in Toronto there is a research facility with Dr. Jonathan Downer who is a TMS expert. Since it’s in Canada they can use Theta Burst stimulation which is far less painful if any pain at all and the time in the chair has been shrunk to 3-6 minutes. Toronto Western is the hospital. Here is Dr. Downer’s contact information: http://www.psychiatry.utoronto.ca/people/dr-jonathan-downar/. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is very difficult and this medication has caused far more harm for patients than any form of TMS has every imagined.

          • Frank December 12, 2016, 9:18 pm

            Thanks so much for info Bill. Yes, Benzodiazepines are pure hell for a lot of us. Unfortunately the problem is ignored and ignorant doctors have no clue how to repair the damage they themselves cause. Once dependent on this poison I have been in hell/depression/anxiety/debilitated for 2 years trying to get off. TMS seems to be my last hope and the benzo is adding insult to injury. I emailed Jonathan at TWH from your link and hope I get a response.

    • Sheri December 7, 2016, 1:40 pm

      Hi Frank if it’s making your jaw twitch they need to adjust the machine! During one of my appointments a few weeks ago I remember it making my arm twitch I told them and they immediately stopped and adjusted the coils and the twitching stopped. I didn’t have an MRI before hand and from what I understand it really doesn’t show anything, this came directly from a neurologist friend of mine that is knowledgeable with TMS therapy.

      The motor threshold test that they did prior to treatment one should be what they need to target how much you need. If you have already started the treatment please don’t stop, yes it is uncomfortable but like you said it’s not painful. I have seven treatments left I still have some bad days but it is absolutely nothing like what I felt like prior to treatment.

      Ask them to adjust the coils, and if the nurse resists or tells you that it is right stop the treatment immediately and ask to speak with the doctor!

    • Eric Dutton January 17, 2017, 5:57 pm

      Hi, Frank. I am a TMS technician in Florida. I have never received TMS as a treatment for depression, but I have performed a lot of them. We use the Nerurostar machine, not the MagVenture, but I believe they use a similar protocol. I think it’s important to do research on any treatment you’re receiving, but this article is designed to collect scary comments about TMS.

      They specifically ask only for those kinds of comments. You could post an article like this about any medical treatment under the sun, and the comment section would fill up with scary stories. I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t side-effects, but in my experience, the most common side-effects are very mild and temporary.

      The most severe side-effects I’ve seen were moderate headaches after treatment in patients who had high motor thresholds, and migraines in patients who had a history of migraines–but even then, the migraines would only happen once or twice during the six to nine weeks of treatment. No one we’ve treated has stopped treatment due to side-effects.

      Doing an MRI prior to treatment might potentially help confirm the diagnosis if you aren’t certain about the depression, but it wouldn’t help with targeting the treatment location. In order to do that, you would need to do the MRI and the TMS simultaneously. There are machines out there that do that, but they I believe they are still in the research phase. By now, I imagine you must be done or nearly done with treatment. How are you?

      • Eric Dutton January 17, 2017, 6:04 pm

        I also don’t mean to suggest that people haven’t legitimately experienced worse side effects than the ones we’ve seen. My point is that severe side-effects and worsening depression are rare. We’ve have completed treatment on about 60 patients so far, and the worst side-effect we have seen is temporary headaches.

  • Kara December 29, 2016, 12:52 am

    I have not experienced all the pain you others have mentioned. I almost enjoy it. I know I’m kinda… different. Maybe because I’m hopeful and look forward to the possibilities. I don’t really have anxiousness and could use a good jolt to get me going.

    I have completed 5 so far. I’m at maximum intensity 2 days now. I noticed the skin on my left side is tighter (bonus!!). I think when you’re depressed your whole outlook becomes dismal, everyone is a crack pot doctor, and everything is more painful because you’re already in pain. In my instance I’ve become numb.

    I’m 35, and relapsed unknowingly after some extreme health problems. While medication helped me become functional, I’m experiencing low mood. I’m not just depending on TMS or medication, but also focusing on lifestyle changes. Do the research, it helps.

    I wish you all the best to come out of the dark pit. We all deserve to feel happy. Because, I know I’m happy. But I want to also feel it.

    • Bill December 30, 2016, 6:29 pm

      Kara, Great comments and advice. Just another piece of information that I think is really important that if you are just sitting in the chair and not being engaged during the treatment I have a problem with that. There is developing information that shows how important some cognitive work is during the treatment. As Kara mentioned we also are fully vested in the concept of changes as in, good diet, good sleep and exercise and being with others as in not isolating. I wish you all a positive and brighter New Year!

  • Nancy January 2, 2017, 5:10 pm

    Has anyone heard of irritability, aggression or rage being a side effect of deep TMS? I started experiencing mood volatility and increasing irritability after my fifth treatment. Uncharacteristic anger and aggression after my 11th treatment. I am on brainsway.

    • Bill January 3, 2017, 12:14 am

      Nancy, It is conceivable that one could become activated with TMS albeit very rare. Have you had any medications changed? Have you been prescribed any L-methyl folate? Either medications or TMS seems to be enhancing your serotonin causing this effect. Keep us posted as this is so interesting and could help many others.

      • Bill January 3, 2017, 3:50 am

        Nancy, I did a Google search on your condition and found this. As I said earlier there is a few reports of mania being induced but almost always with concomitant use of antidepressants. This article should help you understand this better. The addition of a low dose of a mood stabilizer may be something to discuss with the MD supervising your treatment. https://annals-general-psychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1744-859X-12-12

        • Nancy January 15, 2017, 4:58 pm

          Bill – thank you. I don’t think this was mania, nor hypomania. What exactly does the term “activation” mean in this context? I was put on buspar 5 mg day on 2nd day of treatment. Seroquel was added 11th day (which turned out to be last day due to subsequent severe negative side effects).

          Spoke to psychiatrist afterward about possibility of fMRI and he poo-pooed this, saying area was size of lemon and there was no way to more accurately target it. You are suggesting enhanced serotonin causes irritability, mood instability and aggression – why? I haven’t heard that before.

          Thought goal of many anti-depressants is to increase serotonin levels.

          • Bill January 16, 2017, 2:48 pm

            Nancy, I think your psychiatrist needs some information what exactly a fMRI is. The area your trying to target is not the size of a lemon, but rather the size of a marble. Activation is the term to describe sub-threshold mania.

            It can present as sudden anger, suicidality, anxiety, or any sudden change in how one feels, but extreme. The fact that you were placed on an antipsychotic/mood stabilizer speaks to this. Mania and psychosis are a component of bipolar disorder and psychosis, both due to enhanced neurotransmitter activity.

            The medications used to treat these disorders both suppress serotonin. TMS can activate the neurons that transmit neurotransmitters and serotonin being a common one. If the patient was mis-diagnosed due to a weak history and thorough evaluation it is easy to miss a bipolar II disorder and mistakenly see MDD or Major Depressive Disorder when the patient is actually in the depressive cycle. Hope this helps.

      • Sherrie January 30, 2017, 10:29 pm

        Hi Bill, do you any links to the added effect of using L-methylfolate during TMS therapy? I’m currently taking/using both. Thanks.

        • Bill February 2, 2017, 4:42 am

          Sherrie, Great question and yes we are working on something called “BrainPrep TMS” using a new agent called Enlyte that is L-methylfolate with cofactors. It is a natural antidepressant and is safe and covered by many of not most insurance plans. L-methylfolate addresses the MTHFR polymorphism that is present in over 60% of those with depression.

          This polymorphism blocks the metabolism of folic acid and what happens next is complex but briefly homocysteine can rise, the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine lowers. SSRI’s try and keep what little neurotransmitters around longer. TMS aids in the firing of blocked neurons, if you can produce more neurotransmitters then TMS works very nicely.

          For all of you with depression get a MTHFR test and get on Enlyte or Deplin or L-methylfolate.

  • Frank January 5, 2017, 12:12 am

    On treatment #17 I have had increasing tinnitus and severe insomnia. The nurse has now turned down the intensity so low that the treatment will probably be ineffective. I had a very high motor threshold of 94 and am getting probably only around 30 on each side so very discouraged. I don’t know what to do.

    I’m getting bilateral stimulation on MagVenture pro theta burst. Same protocol both left and right sides. Extreme depression or anxiety has not lifted a bit either. I’m set up for 25 sessions but it’s not looking good. I have researched rTMS in depth and better trained providers are seriously needed.

    • Bill January 8, 2017, 6:30 pm

      Frank, You got that right! The side effects discussed on this page we have never seen. The induction of tinnitus, while TMS is very effective in treating tinnitus with stimuli given just over the top of the left ear. I have not once had anyone have their depression get worse, as the only think I have seen is no relief from depression. There are those folks that may need ECT or Ketamine as part of the treatment decisions. There are options!

  • Laura January 6, 2017, 7:11 pm

    After 33 sessions of TMS, my treatment was stopped as my depression increased to an unbearable level. My psychiatrist gave up on me and referred me to another Dr who also referred me out. Because I’ve had TMS, 2 other Dr’s said, there’s nothing we can do for you since TMS didn’t work. One year later, my depression is at detrimental levels.

    I’m an educated person who had a very successful career and life. Now, I’m severely clinically impaired in all areas of functioning. Waking up in the morning is painful as I know it brings another day of extreme depression. TMS took what I knew to be life away from me.

    • Frank January 9, 2017, 3:06 pm

      Laura, I totally sympathize with you and you are not alone. I’m also feeling worse after 20 treatments and totally devastated. TMS added tinnitus and the worst insomnia ever.

      TMS is still in its infancy as far as I can see, even after 20 years of use. There doesn’t seem to be any treatment for depression that is well understood whether it be mechanically, by surgery, chemically or otherwise.

      It’s all trial and error which makes the process long and frustrating. All we can do is hang in there and keep hoping, waiting and searching for something else.

      • Bill January 18, 2017, 4:37 pm

        Frank, You need to have a talk with your psychiatrist to determine if you diagnosis was ever correct. Tinnitus, insomnia and no relief from depression point to something else going on. TMS is not trail and error when used with competency, something I find rare. A comprehensive work-up with a neurologist sounds like the next best step.

  • Ellen January 19, 2017, 5:28 am

    I had treatment resistant depression. Out of utter desperation, I tried TMS last year. The facility, doctor, and technician were wonderful. It was so painful for me that I cried throughout each daily treatment for the first week. When they told me it would get easier to tolerate after the first week or so, I did not believe them.

    Regardless of the pain, I decided I would stick with it and get all 30 treatments. They were right. It got much easier – it went from feeling like a woodpecker drilling on my head to a feeling like mild tapping. Long story, short, TMS worked.

    It brought me out of a deep, scary depression and saved my life. I am a year out from my last treatment and I’m still doing great. I hope everyone here finds or has found effective treatment. Depression is utter torture.

  • Todd January 27, 2017, 12:40 pm

    My diagnoses include Bi-Polar II, MDD, ADD and PTSD. So basically I’ve been miserable for years. No SSRI’s have worked. Been taking Lamictal for about 7 years as it’s the only thing my psychiatrist and I could find that at least helped me avoid rage induced outbursts. And Adderrall jump started me out my last deep deep depression and I continue a low dose regimen for my ADD.

    So I started TMS at a place in Bryn Mawr near where I live, about 7 weeks ago. After almost 6 weeks I was told that an additional 15 sessions were approved because I wasn’t improving enough. So let me get to the point – I experienced shooting nerve pain across my forehead and sometimes behind my right eye when receiving left side rapid. The doctor told the treater to tell me (first problem with them) that it was likely a cranial nerve that passes right through or near the area they are sending pulses through.

    His immediate response was to bail on the left side and only do the slow pulse treatment on the right side, which I knew was not approved, because he had seen success with depression on that side with others. I declined that course. I am already getting the slow right side pulses His name, by the way, is Dr. Tariq Pererra and his practice in Greenwich CT partnered with the place I’m going (Dr Yang – Tao Institute), I believe for the place here to accept insurance.

    Anyway, my own psychiatrist, who I love, recommended TMS a few years ago but not a single place in the Philadelphia area would take insurance – ANY insurance – despite my insurance being willing to cover it. Now that this place takes insurance I’m finally doing it. But that nerve pain, sometimes excruciating during treatment until the treater adjusts placement, has made the experience absolutely horrible.

    But I’ve sucked it up and stuck it out. I’ve had one treatment in the last 7 weeks that felt like what so many others have – mild tapping, basically easy. The rest of the time it’s been some degree of pain, NERVE pain, not pain on the location, pain on the skin, pain in the face etc. but shooting pain across my forehead.

    Soooo… yesterday I was so upset during treatment that neither Doctor involved has made more of an effort to make it more comfortable that I left mad. And by the time I got home, 5 minutes away, I was so angry and full of rage that I got a baseball bat from my garage and started smashing flower pots, a bench, a tree – until my hands hurt. I also threw stuff.

    Then went inside and proceeded to completely fall apart, unravel. My wife has never seen me that bad – for a moment I think I felt suicidal, at least I was thinking some pretty grim thoughts – I’ll never get better, this was my last hope, my life has been a complete waste etc. I finally took a puff of some pot to calm me down, which worked.

    But I was a zombie for the rest of the day – and NOT because I puffed, people. I know the difference. I just didn’t feel like taking a Klonopin or Atavan. I was having an “all medications are evil” moment. The Tao doctor has checked in on me only once the whole time, despite being told he’s supposed to a minimum of every two weeks during treatment, the treaters were just trained (very nice but no experience), the Dr in CT has his regular clinical calls with the treaters and the local Dr at Tao but otherwise I’ve never met him, though he’s the one overseeing this whole operation.

    Pererra was the guy that introduced TMS on Dr. Oz apparently – I think he’s a self-proclaimed guru of TMS who, judging by his Greenwich CT location, makes money hand over fist. I cancelled treatment for today after yesterday’s insanity and going to see my Psychiatrist to see what he thinks I should do. Meanwhile, I’m no better. Thought maybe I was feeling a tiny bit better last week for a couple of days but then this happened.

    I feel so beat up and upset and hopeless after this treatment. I still have 10 more sessions approved but I may just end treatment.

    • Bill January 29, 2017, 6:51 pm

      Todd, Once again I have to chime in that it should not cause nerve pain. Doing slow frequency on the right side is used all over Europe, just not by our anally retentive FDA who remember are the lobby for the pharmaceutical company. If you are bipolar II and not I TMS, stimulants and SSRI’s have to be used judiciously so as not to cause activation as in trashing things with a baseball bat. I would suggest you get some testing and a second opinion.

      • Todd February 2, 2017, 11:07 pm

        Thanks for chiming in, Bill. I realize that there should not be the kind of pain I’ve been experiencing. The fact is, I was told that even with pain the treatment is still effective.

        So I sucked it up until I couldn’t anymore. And despite right side treatment showing good results for MDD elsewhere, it’s not technically approved here, crooked pharmas/FDA or no. My instincts guided me in the decision to stay with the left side, clearly to my own detriment. What tests are you referring to above?

        • Bill February 3, 2017, 1:45 pm

          Todd, The word should be mild discomfort, not pain. If it is real sharp pain then they need to lower the intensity down to where it is tolerable and work back up to the threshold that is tolerable for you. Too many are cook book operators with no ability to think outside the box.

          As far as testing goes that would be a reevaluation and perhaps some psychological testing to get a real picture of what they are treating. If this was Europe or Canada you would be a great candidate for Theta burst simulation which is about 10 minutes in length and the intensity is far far less and far more tolerable.

          If you are receiving treatment on the Neurostar then this treatment modality is not available. The Magstim, MagVenure and Brainsway can perform this stimulation.

    • LMD March 24, 2017, 1:41 pm

      Todd, So sorry you had this experience. Due to insurance coverage I too almost went to same Bryn Mawr TMS provider. There are few qualified in network providers in this area. I had many concerns about the Bryn Mawr franchise type partnership with other practice from Connecticut and that I would not have an experienced TMS psychiatrist in each session.

      It appeared that I would be in the hands of technician with the doctor appearing maybe twice during all the 30 sessions. I had a strong sense that Bryn Mawr would be a “factory like setting” to make money for a busy proactive that does many other treatments and not specialized in TMS. I elected instead to see an out of network psychiatrist in Chester County with extensive TMS (Neuronetics machine) experience and was able to get a single case agreement approved by insurance with a lot of support from the provider.

      I am so glad I did. I just finished 30 treatments and only experienced discomfort even with a very high threshold for the first 2 sessions. The doctor was in each session with the technician and monitored daily as well as talking about some of my MDD issues during sessions. If you have not completed treatment at Bryn Mawr, do not give up and seek other provider. I am seeing some response to the TMS and am hopeful. Good luck!

      • Todd March 24, 2017, 11:15 pm

        I really appreciate your message, LMD. And what you described about Tao Institute in Bryn Mawr is accurate. Unless you are a patient of Dr. Yang there, you don’t get the care you deserve, are paying for and in some cases is required by FDA regulations. It was a total waste of time and money and grief and pain there. Hence my anger toward them. I haven’t spoken a word to them since I walked out.

        I knew I would say something I would regret later. But I really hope they pay for this one way or the other. My own psychiatrist finally got the Neurostar machine in one office and will soon be getting one of the other ones (Magstar maybe?). Anyway, I started treatment all over with him about three weeks ago and it has been a pretty okay time. I need 120% power so it doesn’t feel great no matter what it is.

        But I can handle that easily after 7 weeks of excruciating pain. My doctor played a big role in the TMS clinical trials at Penn that led to FDA approval. He also thinks outside the box, which is what it took to find a coil location that wasn’t directly above a nerve. It took him about five minutes to find a spot after the MT measurements were done.

        After the first train didn’t cause me pain my first thought was that I wanted to sue those other people for negligence and a whole bunch of other stuff. But my next thought was to file a report with my insurance company instead. Then finally I had the thought that maybe there’s a chance this could work. I think I might have felt better for a second. So far I haven’t noticed anything positive myself.

        My doctor said he sees a tiny bit and feels very confident that I’m headed to a good place. So I’m going with that. I have to stress to all here that while the target area, measurements, power etc may be correct, if you experience pain and that leads to anxiety before and after every treatment then I don’t care who tells me the pain does not alter efficacy.

        It does if you end up even more anxious and depressed than you were before treatment just from the dread and fear of more pain every day for weeks, never mind feeling deflated and discouraged and disappointed and all that. I would recommend my Dr. for TMS to anyone living near Philly. No place is perfect, but at least I implicitly trust who is administering my treatment.

        Not sure if it’s alright to name him or his practice here but if you google TMS Andrew Philadelphia… obviously I have no problem giving the name, number, location and website of the other place: http://www.taoinstitute.com/

  • Sherrie Ward January 28, 2017, 11:36 pm

    I have just finished week one of TMS treatments and the only side effect I’ve had is a mild left eye twitch that comes and goes. So far, no difference in the depression/anxiety but I’m very hopeful!

  • Arielle February 13, 2017, 1:27 am

    I’ve gone through about two weeks of sessions. At first I had severe headaches and dizziness. After a few days nausea kicked in, and then I was just plain exhausted.

  • Chris February 15, 2017, 1:30 am

    I have had 10 treatments so far with another 10 to go. I have had a severe headache each day since treatment started… very similar to a migraine and with pain also behind my left eye which is causing just a little blurred vision. Pain killers are not working and I have had constant pain with nausea for twelve days now.

    Dr has suggested that I may want to stop treatment, but I have made a decision to continue on the basis that past medications have not helped and I see this as my last resort. My biggest concern is that these headaches won’t stop after treatment and just the thought of this continuing is causing some anxiety. Can anyone offer any suggestions? Thanks.

  • Renee February 22, 2017, 9:34 pm

    I just finished treatment 25 and I’m not seeing the type of improvement I wanted or expected. I was approved for 20 sessions then insurance approved another 10. I am at the highest power the place will go, machine will go higher but the techs aren’t allowed to.

    I have to say everyone there has been wonderful but like many this is my last hope. More than 20 years of trying every med & alternative treatments & fighting each day to live I was thinking, hoping that this would work, that it would give me the life I never had. Has anyone had any type of success once you are this many treatments in without success & working in the last few sessions or what’s been referred to as the delayed effect where it takes a week or two after stopping treatment & then works?

    I’m trying to hang onto some type of hope & don’t want to give up on life until I am sure this hasn’t worked .

  • Tim February 27, 2017, 10:58 pm

    I did TMS two times and have some concerns. The first time I did it, I had days where I felt dramatically better. About 15 treatments in I changed my medications from one SSRI to another.

    Suddenly I developed the most distressing symptoms of depersonalization and brain fog. I was scared it was from TMS. So about half a year went by and I needed a antidepressant boost and also wanted to see if TMS was the culprit of these bad symptoms.

    So I did TMS again. The second time around I got a big antidepressant boost from TMS (still nowhere near 100%) and that symptom also faded. A few months ago I made some SSRI medication changes and that symptom came back again.

    So here I am again needing a boost and am considering TMS. But I’m concerned if it will make that symptom better or worse. I’m worried because that symptom started for the first time for me during the first time I did TMS.

    Could it be that TMS made me react in a more activated manner to SSRIs and that’s why that symptom started or could it be the TMS itself?

  • alan March 18, 2017, 12:11 am

    Who’s willing to start a Class Action lawsuit against Neurostar. My life was ruined by this treatment. Made my depression so much worse and gave me TMS induces mania so I couldn’t sleep. It’s a year later and my depression is so severe. Who’s with me?

    • Crystal April 12, 2017, 6:12 am

      My Daughter had TMS 4 years ago and is a total mess since. Fear And Anxiety depression OCD. Her life is a constant battle since this treatment. Can this treatment effect be reversed? We saw a show on Dr. Phil and thought it would be a good option. What a scam.

      They destroyed our lives and took my daughters life away. She had OCD with depression but it was not very bad. Now it is through the roof and no relief in sight. She is more sensitive than ever to all medication and suffers daily. Feeling hopeless. -Crystal

  • Renee March 28, 2017, 1:27 am

    It’s been almost a month since my last treatment, I did 30. My emotions are much more intense & my sleep is worse. I so wanted this to work. I’m out of options & had seen a little improvement after about 20 sessions, but now I’m scared I’m going to keep getting worse. Anyone have this experience & did it get better or worse? I’m hitting bottom fast.

  • Marnie May 29, 2017, 10:44 pm

    I started TMS two weeks ago. I am in Minnesota. I have severe occipital pain on the right side during TMS treatment. Does anyone else have this symptom? From my research, I have found that there are only two practitioners that do TMS in Minnesota. Is anyone else doing TMS in MN? What has been your experience?

    I feel like I’m being tortured. The technician has turned down the intensity and sped up the intervals between pulsations which has made it more tolerable as I’m enduring it for 20 minutes instead of 25 minutes. I had an occipital nerve block done on Friday so I’ll see if it decreases the pain when I go tomorrow for TMS.

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