Transcranial magnetic stimulation ('TMS' for short) involves placing a magnetic coil next to the scalp. Strong magnetic pulses produce electrical changes in the area of the brain under the coil.
TMS is usually applied to the left front area of the brain. This area is thought to be underactive in depression and TMS increases its activity. TMS is also thought to increase the level of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. These neurotransmitters are in short supply in depression.
The BluePages Team is currently reviewing the research on TMS and will update this page as soon as possible.
TMS sometimes produces a headache or discomfort on the scalp. In very rare cases, it can produce an epileptic fit.
TMS is still an experimental treatment and not in widespread use. It is being used for research purposes in a small number of teaching hospitals in Australia. Some private health clinics and hospitals also offer TMS through private health arrangements. Information about TMS in Australia is available from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre on 03 9076 6595.
The BluePages Team is currently reviewing its recommendation about TMS.