You may be wondering “is TMS effective?”
Well, you’re in the right place!
We at Success TMS are one of the largest providers of TMS in the country.
This post covers TMS success rates for depression, anxiety, PTSD and more based on the most recent studies.
Here are the facts, pros and cons, research, and success rates.
Your Guide to TMS
- What is TMS
- How does TMS work?
- History of TMS therapy
- Success rates of TMS for depression
- Success rates of TMS for anxiety
- Success rates of TMS for OCD
- Success rates of TMS for PTSD
- Long-term benefits of TMS
- Side effects of TMS therapy
What is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive, in-office procedure designed to treat symptoms of major depression.
- FDA approved
- covered by most insurance policies
- covered by Medicare & Tricare
- non-invasive (you can resume regular activities after treatment)
How Does TMS Work?
TMS works by generating magnetic pulses delivered to the areas of the brain that affect your mood.
These pulses stimulate the neurotransmitters that are found to be underactive in people suffering from depression.
Typically, TMS is administered to the left prefrontal cortex, as this area of your brain regulates your mood.
You start by sitting back and relaxing in a TMS chair for each 20-minute session.
The History fo TMS Therapy
Transcranial magnetic stimulation was first used in a clinical setting to study depression and other mood disorders in 1985, although TMS research, in general, dates back to the turn of the 20th century.
In 2008 the FDA approved TMS for medication-resistant depression.
TMS studies for depression looked at TMS on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and on both sides at the same time.
High frequencies and low frequencies were also tested and compared.
Clinical Neurophysiology found a “definite antidepressant effect” of high-frequency TMS on the left side of the brain and a “probable antidepressant effect” on the right side.
Frequency didn’t play much of a role, but the majority of studies used high-frequency TMS on the left side.
Success Rate of TMS Therapy
The success rate of TMS varies based on the condition it is treating.
Here’s a breakdown of the success rate based on condition.
TMS for Depression – Success Rates
TMS has an 82% success rate in terms of significant improvement, and a 63% remission rate according to recent studies.
In the study of relapse rates conducted with 204 patients, the event-free relapse rates of rTMS patients were 22.6% in the sixth month.
An amazing 20%-40% of all depressed patients remain chronically depressed with antidepressants and psychotherapeutic interventions.
TMS for Anxiety – Success Rates
TMS is effective for anxiety and other disorders that tie in with anxiety, such as depression, PTSD, and OCD.
In this study, anxiety scores decreased by 33% after TMS treatment was applied to the participants. The decrease in depression is also important because anxiety and depression usually go hand-in-hand. In the same study, a 40% decrease was observed in depression scores. There was a 45% decrease in tension level and 44% in fatigue. In the increase of power, a 100% difference was found between before and after TMS treatment.
This study showed an improvement of 23.3% in patients who suffer from anxiety disorder and depression.
In another study, 11 of 13 (84.6%) patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder responded to the TMS treatment and were in remission.
Also, as a result of low-frequency TMS application in a case study, anxiety and panic symptoms of the patient decreased by up to 78%.
TMS for OCD – Success Rates
Yes, medications and therapy are effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
BUT… 30-60% of OCD patients are still unable to tolerate the side effects of medications.
In a study conducted to see how much a person can expect from their initial 6 weeks of TMS treatment, 60,3% of patients had at least a partial response and there was a 20% decrease in OCD symptoms. 47.1% of patients responded to the treatment, and there was a 30% decrease in OCD symptoms.
In this study, a decrease in both anxiety and depression symptoms was observed in both participants after 10 rTMS sessions. At the same time, there was a 41% reduction in OCD scores.
In another study, 67% of patients responded to rTMS treatment. Also, 32% improvement in OCD symptoms was observed.
After 8 weeks of rTMS treatment, there was a 40% decrease in OCD scores. There was also an improvement in anxiety and depression symptoms.
TMS for PTSD – Success Rates
It is estimated that 7.8% of the U.S population experiences post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their life.
Since PTSD has close ties (comorbid) with depression and anxiety, it makes sense for patients experiencing PTSD to benefit from TMS.
In the study of Grisaru et al., a 39.3% reduction was measured on the PTSD scale containing avoidance symptoms. That was found that after 10 patients underwent TMS treatments.
In another study, right-sided and left-sided TMS treatments were applied to the participants. 48.6% in right-sided treatment and 22.8% in the left-sided treatment was detected.
In a study, participants who were exposed to images related to their trauma. TMS therapy was then applied. 4 of the 9 experienced improvements. This corresponds to a rate of 44%. At the end of the acute TMS treatment, depressive symptoms were decreased in 40.7% of the participants. The total remission rate was 39%. At the end of the follow-up, it was observed that 19.8% of participants achieved continuous remission.
At the end of this study, remission was found in 39.0% of veterans with depression who were previously treatment-resistant.
The research on TMS for post-traumatic stress disorder shows significant improvement in PTSD symptom scores.
What Are the Long-Term Benefits of TMS?
There are many stories from patients about how long TMS helps their major depressive disorder. Until recently, little research had been done to prove the long-term effects of TMS.
A 2015 placebo-controlled trial published in World Psychiatry concluded that “…dTMS is an effective and tolerable treatment for patients with MDD [major depressive disorder] who have not successfully responded to treatment with antidepressant medications.”
In fact, the more resistant the patient is to medication, the more significant the effects of TMS treatment. “…the effects appear durable” up to 16 weeks.
While 16 weeks is a significant stretch of time, TMS has been proven effective for up to a year.
Medscape Medical News reported one study on the lasting effects of TMS.
Three-hundred seven patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TRMDD) received the standard course of treatment for four to six weeks. Then they were tracked over 12 months.
There was a “statistically and clinically meaningful response and remission” at the end of treatment, and a significant number of those patients continued to experience relief from depression for a year after treatment.
This study marked the first time a broad cross-section of TMS patients were tracked for long-term effects.
The fact that so many experienced extended relief is important, especially compared to another form of electromagnetic treatment: electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Research suggests ECT treatment can cause lasting side effects, like verbal and memory loss.
Because of ECT’s high risks (especially using anesthesia), transcranial magnetic stimulation became the response. A typical TMS treatment session lasts only 18 to 19 minutes, there’s no need for anesthesia, and the side effects are mild—if any.
Are There Side Effects of TMS?
If you experience any side effects of TMS, they are usually mild and short-lived.
Memory loss is not a concern, and neither is the harsh side effects of prescription medication.
You may notice tingling in your face or jaw or mild headaches that could last an hour or two after treatment. These tend to disappear about a week into treatment.
Since its FDA approval in 2008 and so many positive studies of TMS’s outcomes, almost all insurance providers cover TMS as a treatment for depression.
Is TMS effective for your needs?