What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy? – Forbes Health

The FDA has approved TMS to treat five conditions:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Migraines
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Smoking cessation
  • Anxious depression

dTMS has been approved for MDD, OCD and smoking cessation, while rTMS is approved for all five conditions.

TMS For Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

TMS is most commonly used to treat MDD in adults. Typically, there needs to be a failed response to other treatments, such as antidepressant medication, for TMS to be prescribed, experts note.

Dr. de Quevedo emphasizes that TMS is the most effective at treating MDD. “Approximately 50% to 60% of people with depression who have tried and failed to receive benefit from medications experience a clinically meaningful response with TMS,” he says. He also notes that in about a third of cases, TMS causes a full remission from MDD, citing a 2020 study in eClinicalMedicine.

TMS for Migraines

Those who suffer from chronic migraines may find relief with TMS treatment. It’s particularly effective if migraines are caused by past trauma or drug use, according to a meta-analysis in the Journal of Headache and Pain.

TMS for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Both types of TMS are approved to treat OCD, and when used in combination with other OCD treatments, TMS has a 38% success rate in reducing OCD symptoms, according to a study referenced by the FDA in their recommendation.

TMS for Smoking Cessation

TMS may reduce tobacco cravings by stimulating neurons in the prefrontal cortex, according to a 2021 study in World Psychiatry. While it’s only approved for smoking cessation, researchers are studying how rTMS could be used to treat addictions more generally.

TMS for Anxious Depression

In 2021, the FDA approved TMS to treat anxious depression, which is depression that occurs in tandem with anxiety symptoms. Typically, four weeks of rTMS are prescribed for this condition, though dTMS is often more effective in severe cases, according to a 2022 study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. However, it’s important to note that this study was funded and written by a company (and employees) who manufacture TMS products, so a conflict of interest should be considered when considering the study’s findings.


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