Repetitive TMS is usually done in a doctor's office or clinic. It requires a series of treatment sessions to be effective. Usually, sessions are held daily, five times a week for four to six weeks. Antidepressant medications and psychotherapy have helped relieve symptoms of depression in millions of people.
However, these methods do not bring relief for everyone. Some people experience intolerable side effects from medications, and for others, they don't work at all.
Transcranial magneticstimulation (TMS) is a drug-free, non-invasive alternative treatment for major depressive disorder. Studies have shown that up to 60% of people with treatment-resistant depression experience improvement in their symptoms with EMT therapy.
And for about a third of them, TMS completely eliminates their symptoms. The results don't last forever, but even a few months of relief can make a significant difference to a person's quality of life. TMS is different because the usual regimen is five sessions of 20 to 40 minutes per week for six to seven weeks. While this may seem like a big compromise, most patients who have completed an EMT course will tell you what happens quickly.
The first cycle of EMT sessions is usually 5 days a week for 4 to 6 weeks. After the first cycle, sessions will be gradually reduced until your mental health care provider recommends that you stop doing so. Always consult a doctor or health professional if you have questions about your treatment plan. Experts have studied EMT only with repeated daily sessions.
We have no data on whether EMT is effective or not if treatments are administered with less frequent sessions. Doctors at UNC have experience with this technology and will work with you to optimize the schedule that best suits your clinical and personal needs. What can people with depression do when they don't respond to first-line treatments? For several decades, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT or shock therapy) was the gold standard for treatment-resistant depression. In fact, ECT is still considered to be the most potent and effective treatment for this condition, and it is still used regularly throughout the country.
However, for many people with depression, ECT may be too difficult to tolerate because of side effects on memory and cognition. For those people and many others who have had an inadequate response to medications and therapy alone, there is a newer treatment option called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).