About Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Side Effects



  • Seizures

  • Nausea

  • Weight gain

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fatigue or drowsiness

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Migraine or headaches

  • Tremors

  • Excessive sweating

  • Dry mouth

  • Sexual disfunction

  • Headache

  • Local scalp discomfort

  • Facial spasms/ twitching

  • Lightheadedness

Commonly reported TMS side effects are generally mild to moderate, and usually improve shortly after treatment sessions.

Serious side effects
of TMS are rare and include a low risk of seizures. Approximately one in 1,000 TMS patients experience a mild seizure.

Unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), TMS causes no memory impairment, and requires no monitoring or other restrictions post-procedure. Patients can transport themselves to and from treatment.

Why TMS?

Depression is treatable. However, for some people, traditional treatments, such as medication and talk therapy, are ineffective. TMS is an FDA-approved, non-invasive, non-drug therapy for the treatment of major depressive disorder in patients who do not respond to or are unable to tolerate antidepressant medications. This procedure uses precisely targeted high-intensity magnetic pulses to stimulate key areas of the brain that are underactive in patients with depression, and introduces plasticity to the treated areas of the brain to develop new pathways that help the patient escape the cycle of depression.

Benefits of TMS

  • Non-Invasive. TMS does not involve surgery, anesthesia, or electrodes.

  • No Drug-Related Side Effects. Because TMS is a non-drug treatment for medication-resistant patients, there are no medication-related side effects with TMS.

  • FDA-Approved. TMS therapy was approved by the FDA in 2008 for treatment of major depression in those who do not respond to at least one antidepressant .

  • Does Not Cause Memory Loss. Unlike ECT, TMS causes no memory impairment.

Watch videos below of patients who have benefited from TMS:

How TMS Works

During a typical TMS session, a magnetic coil is placed on the scalp near an area of the brain linked to depression. Through the coil, a series of short electromagnetic pulses is administered. The pulses cause stimulation of nerve cells in the targeted part of the brain.

Is TMS Safe?

In general, patients tolerate TMS procedures well and report only mild to moderate side effects that usually end shortly after the treatment session. The most common side effects include discomfort on the scalp at the treatment site; mild headaches or lightheadedness; and tingling, spasms, or twitching of facial muscles. In rare cases, seizures occur. A conservative estimate for seizure risk is one in 1,000 patients.


TMS therapy should not be used on patients with implanted, non-MRI-safe, metal devices or non-removable metal objects in or around the head, excluding fillings or other dental work. TMS should be used with caution in patients with implants controlled by physiological signals. TMS is typically not recommended for people with the following objects and devices, unless special precautions are taken:


  • Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)

  • Stents

  • Aneurysm clips or coils

  • Cochlear implants

  • Bullet fragments

© 2019, Dr. Mark Gloss 

(617) 277-0939

1180 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA