Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is an evidence based, safe, effective and non-invasive method for treating depression. It uses rapidly changing magnetic fields to stimulate areas of the brain that are involved in mood regulation. This technique is typically used in the treatment of depression when treatment with medication hasn’t been successful, or when the patient is not able to tolerate medication. However, rTMS can also be used as an entry point to depression treatment if required. rTMS has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
We are proud to be able to offer rTMS at Priory Wellbeing Centre Harley Street, which is one of the few places in the country where this innovative treatment can be accessed.
How does rTMS work?
During an rTMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed just above your temple. Once this is in place, the electromagnet delivers electrical currents that stimulate the area of your brain that are involved in mood control and depression. This increases the electrical activity in your brain and causes the underlying brain cells to connect more effectively with each other, which has been found to reduce depression and improve mood.
What can I expect during rTMS treatment?
- Initial consultation - rTMS takes place on an outpatient basis. You will have an initial consultation with one of our depression treatment experts, to confirm your diagnosis of depression, review your medical history and previous treatments for depression, and discuss all treatment options with you.
- Your first session - rTMS sessions are administered by a specialist rTMS technician. Before treatment begins, your specialist will need to determine the best place to put the electromagnetic coil on your head, as well as the most appropriate dose of energy for you.
- Each rTMS session will last for about 50 minutes. During this time, you will sit in a comfortable chair with the electromagnetic coil placed on your head and will hear clicking noises and feel tapping on your head. For the first 20 minutes of your session, the qualified technician will adjust settings and energy as appropriate, and then for the remaining time, you are free to relax, read a book or a magazine, or watch TV. Typically, rTMS sessions are administered 4-5 days per week over a 4-week period.
- rTMS can be tailored to be effectively delivered over a shorter duration with sessions lasting only a few minutes and occurring over a shorter total time period of 3-4 weeks. This allows for a more accessible treatment option for patients with busy schedules due to travel or work
- Your specialist will see you at the mid-point of your treatment to assess impact and make any necessary changes to treatment. At the end of therapy the possibility of maintenance therapy and rescue therapy can be explored to minimize the risk of future depressive episodes and their impact on your daily functioning
What are the benefits of rTMS?
- Highly effective based on clinical trials
- Very few adverse effects (the most common adverse effects are local skin warming and brief, mild headache)
- Therapeutic benefits and effects can be seen after 1 week
- Available on an outpatient basis, enabling flexibility, convenience and ease of access. You are able to simply drop-in to your sessions, like you would the hairdressers or any other appointment
- You are able to resume normal daily activities, such as driving and returning to work, immediately after a treatment session
- rTMS can work alongside medication and talking therapy if required
This offering is funded by the insurance company, Aviva.
How is rTMS different from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT?)
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a method that has been used for many years in the treatment of severe depression, whereas rTMS is a newer technique. During ECT, a strong electrical current is passed through the brain. Over time, this may result in a reduction in the symptoms of depression.
There are a number of differences between ECT and rTMS:
Method of stimulation
Delivers an electric shock to the brain, with electrodes placed over the entire surface of the scalp.
Delivers bursts of highly concentrated magnetic energy to very specific areas of the brain.
Patients required to be under general anaesthetic in order to receive ECT.
No sedation required; patients’ consciousness is not affected, and individuals are able to relax, read or watch TV during sessions.
Can cause some side effects including nausea and short term memory loss.
Results in very minimal side effects.
“rTMS is a novel and very promising treatment for depression and is safe and effective. It is particularly useful where other treatment approaches have not worked and has fewer adverse effects than other pharmacological or physical treatments.”
- Dr Leon Rozewicz, Medical Director at Priory Wellbeing Centre Harley Street
Contact Priory Wellbeing Centre Harley Street today
For more information on the specialist mental health services that are offered at Priory Wellbeing Centre Harley Street, and how we can help you or a loved one to overcome mental health challenges, call us today on 0800 280 8296. You can also access our dedicated information sheet.
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