Pros and Cons of TMS Therapy

Learn about the pros and cons of TMS therapy and how Profound Treatment can help in this informative article.  

Table of Contents

Understanding TMS Therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation procedure. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it for the treatment of psychological disorders like major depressive disorder (MDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).1

The procedure is usually recommended for patients with treatment-resistant depression or who experience the unwanted side effects of antidepressant medications. Understanding the pros and cons of TMS therapy will help patients understand the value of this procedure.

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How Does TMS Therapy Work?

This treatment option involves the application of repetitive electromagnetic impulses to regions of the brain known to cause certain psychological disorders. Reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex is commonly associated with depression, so these impulses are measured to trigger this part of the brain.
A TMS technician or physician places a magnetic coil on the patient’s scalp at a position that targets a specific region in the front part of the brain. For accuracy, the technician will measure the patient’s head during their first visit.

TMS Therapy Time Frame

TMS therapy lasts thirty to sixty minutes per session and should occur five days a week for about four to six weeks. The procedure may be completed in a clinic or hospital. Before the procedure, the physician will explain the pros and cons of TMS therapy, what each session entails, and how to prepare for it.

How Effective Is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation pros and cons begin with how well it works. The effectiveness of TMS therapy has been proven many times. Research has shown that up to 60% of patients with depression who could not benefit from medications have reported improved symptoms in their TMS therapy reviews.2

A clinical trial recorded a patient response rate of 58% and full remission in 37.1% of TMS patients with MDD. With these overwhelmingly positive numbers, there is no question about TMS therapy’s effectiveness.3

TMS Therapy Pros

To begin assessing the pros and cons of TMS therapy, let’s consider some TMS advantages.

High Success Rate

TMS has promising success rates for the treatment of depression, ranging between 30% and 64%.4


When considering the pros and cons of TMS therapy, a major advantage is its non-invasive nature. TMS does not require general anesthesia or any other invasive practice. The magnetic coil is simply placed on the patient’s scalp, and the waves are transmitted to the target region. This means that the patient experiences minimal to no discomfort and recovers swiftly.


The FDA currently approves TMS for treating major depression, migraines, OCD, nicotine addiction, and depression with anxiety. This is due to its effectiveness in reducing symptoms of these conditions. But, recent research and studies are revealing positive results in the treatment of additional disorders and health concerns. They include:5
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of muscle movement and dysphasia caused by stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Posttraumatic-stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia

No Medications Needed

Patients cleared for TMS may notice improvements as soon as a few weeks. In most cases, TMS patients do not continue to use antidepressant medications. This is a significant addition to the pros and cons of TMS therapy.

Covered By Medicare

Medicare policy providers understand TMS therapy benefits and provide coverage for eligible candidates. Under very favorable conditions, some patients have been able to obtain 100% financing.

Minimum Side Effects

Another advantage to add to the TMS pros and cons list is how this procedure affects the body. Most patients experience no side effects of TMS therapy beyond a slight headache or tingling feeling at the site where the magnet was placed. Brainsway’s randomized clinical trials showed that 47% of patients in the TMS group and 36% in the placebo group reported headaches. This data can indicate that TMS therapy does not directly cause headaches.6

TMS Therapy Cons

TMS therapy can be a great treatment opportunity for many individuals. However, there are some potential disadvantages to consider. Cons of TMS treatment will be detailed below.

Time Commitment

Time commitment is an essential element of the pros and cons of TMS therapy. Since the treatment runs for about thirty minutes five days a week, patients should be able to make time for each session.

Medicare Criteria Can Be Strict

Another factor to consider when evaluating the TMS pros and cons is the cost. A complete TMS treatment can cost between $6,000 and $12,000 without insurance or subsidies. Most patients who want to enjoy the TMS therapy benefits would require Medicaid or another health insurance provider. The criteria for qualifying may be strict and difficult to meet.

Mild Scalp Discomfort

This is the most common side effect of TMS therapy. Some patients complain of mild scalp discomfort due to the tapping sensation of the magnet during activation.

Risk of Seizure

TMS therapy is contraindicated in patients who have a history of or are predisposed to seizures. While this side effect is uncommon, only occurring in 0.03% of patients, precautions must be taken. Fortunately, studies report that the seizures did not transpire after the treatment or cause long-term complications.7
While seizures are rare, physicians must consider this side effect while outlining the TMS pros and cons for each patient.


The equipment for this procedure is not readily available in many places. As a result, some people may have limited access to TMS therapy.

Not Recommended for Everyone

The patient and the physician must consider the pros and cons of TMS therapy, as it is not for everyone. For instance, those with a history or risk of seizures should not continue with this procedure.

Treatment With TMS Therapy

Now that we have established the pros and cons of TMS therapy, let’s consider the benefits and negative side effects of TMS therapy.

Benefits of TMS Therapy

One of the most significant TMS benefits is its lasting results. For example, one study reported that 62.5% of patients remained in remission fifty-two weeks after TMS treatment.8
When considering TMS therapy effectiveness, the short list of side effects, and its non-invasive nature, this treatment is an excellent choice. This is especially true for those with treatment-resistant depression.

Negative Side Effects of TMS Therapy

Like other treatment types, TMS may cause various side effects. When weighing the pros and cons of TMS therapy, we mentioned a few disadvantages in the cons section, such as mild scalp discomfort. The possible TMS therapy side effects include the following:
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mild headaches 
  • Neck pain
  • Scalp pain
  • Sleepiness
  • Tingling sensation

Can TMS Make You Worse?

In the beginning, the side effects listed above may make patients feel worse. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that TMS symptoms are temporary. Thus, they usually resolve themselves and may even stop occurring after a few sessions. This is a significant factor when assessing the pros and cons of TMS therapy.
However, there are cases where conditions can worsen due to incorrect treatment. For instance, TMS cannot fully treat schizophrenia, potentially increasing adverse symptoms without the proper treatment plan. TMS therapy might also harm patients with bipolar disorder or severe anxiety. This can be caused by an overstimulation of the brain, enhancing the symptoms. Hence the pros and cons of TMS therapy must be considered before deciding.
Benefits of TMS Therapy
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