[Johns Hopkins School of Medicine] Frequently Asked Questions About TMS
Why does rTMS work?
rTMS has been shown to produce changes in neuronal activity in regions of the brain implicated in mood regulation, such as the prefrontal cortex. As each magnetic pulse passes through the skull and into the brain, this induces brief activity of brain cells underlying the treatment coil.
The frequency of pulse delivery also influences whether brain activity is increased or decreased by a session of rTMS. Recent studies also suggest that stimulation over the left and right sides of the brain can have opposite effects on mood regulation.
When is rTMS used?
Antidepressant medications and psychotherapy are the first line treatments for major depression. These treatments, however, do not work for all patients. In these instances, rTMS might be used as an alternative treatment, or to augment antidepressant medications or psychotherapy. Patients who have failed to achieve an adequate response from antidepressants, or who are unable to tolerate medications, might consider rTMS therapy.