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Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive treatment that does not require any needles or anesthetic for people suffering from depression who either failed to improve with other treatments (such as medications and therapy) or if antidepressants are not suitable. 

It works by delivering series of magnetic pulses through a magnetic coil placed against the scalp. The magnetic field penetrates the scalp safely and without pain, creating a current in a targeted brain area. This results in stimulation of the areas of brain related to mood and produces changes in brain activity.

Frequently asked questions

We will book an appointment with the consultant psychiatrist who will do an initial assessment and also help you decide if rTMS is right for you.

We may request some blood tests to ensure rTMS is suitable.

You will also be asked to fill in a screening questionnaire, along with other questionnaires to score the level of your depression. Some of the questionnaires will be repeated further along the treatment. This score will help us work out how much you have improved and ensure the treatment is right for you.

rTMS treatment is provided in the Brentwood Resource Centre. The treatment is usually given as once daily treatments, Monday to Friday. The staff will arrange an appointment convenient for you

Our team will assist you throughout the treatment. Your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels will be checked prior to starting the treatment.You will need to remove jewelry, mobile phones, and debit/credit cards as these can be affected by the magnetic field.

You will be given plenty of time to settle in and use the toilet if needed. You will be awake the entire time.

You will be seated on a comfortable chair for the treatment and the team will be present throughout the treatment. A member of our team will place a specially designed cap which helps identify the exact position for the coil to be placed. The dose of magnetic energy to be delivered will be determined by the doctor.

During the treatment you will hear clicking sounds and will feel a tapping sensation on your head underneath the coil. To help with this, you will be asked to wear ear plugs. The rTMS nurse will monitor you during the treatment.

You can stop a treatment at any time by asking a member of the team.

A full course of treatment involves 20- 30 sessions. Each appointment lasts for one hour, but the actual treatment itself takes less than 40 minutes.

Patients experience significant improvement in their depressive symptoms when treated with rTMS and some recover completely. For others, some symptoms might return. This tends to vary from person to person. If symptoms do return, which is usually after several months, a short course (3-4 sessions) of treatment may be recommended.

After completion of the course of treatment, a letter will be sent to your referring team with all the outcome scores. Your doctor will help you with your long term care and manage your medication.

You should take all your routine medications as prescribed, unless otherwise specified by your doctor.

Yes, you can have other forms of treatments such as therapy or medications along with rTMS.

rTMS does not require any anesthesia, so you can eat and drink.

No, you can return to your normal daily activities.

You are always free to change your mind. We will facilitate all queries you have about rTMS to help you decide.

We will ask you to sign a consent form before we start the course of treatment. We will check with you before every session to make sure you are happy to continue and you are free to withdraw your consent at any time. If you do decide not to continue with the treatment, it is important to tell the doctor your reasons why and have a discussion about alternative treatments available to you.

rTMS is non-invasive with minimal side effects. The most common side effect is headache and discomfort from the coil. These are mild and generally decrease over the course of the treatment. Some people take paracetamol 1-2 hours before the treatments.

There is also a very small chance of seizure with this treatment, but it is exceedingly low (1:30,000). So far, no long term risks have been shown.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please call NHS 111 option 2 or visit your nearest A&E.

Please do not use the clinic voicemail or email as there is no facility for out of hours or immediate response.

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