Is TMS the same as ECT?
Although both Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) treat depression, the similarities end there.
TMS has been used since the 1980s and can be used to treat a large majority of patients living with depression and other mental health conditions. ECT was first introduced in the 1940s and is now used to treat the most severe cases of depression, usually after all anti-depressant and therapy combinations have been tried without success.
ECT is more invasive than TMS and requires the patient to have a general anesthetic, which carries its own risks and restrictions. A session of TMS takes 30 minutes and you are able to go about your day as normal immediately afterwards, without any need to go into hospital or disrupt your usual routine.
TMS uses magnetic pulses to cause neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to mend and build connections between the nerve cells – and targets only the small area of the brain that is understood to cause the symptoms of depression (the prefrontal cortex). ECT passes electrical currents through electrodes placed on the head to induce seizures. Although ECT patients are given muscle relaxants whilst under the anesthetic, it is common to wake up feeling achy as a result of the seizures.
Since opening our doors in 2015, we at Smart TMS have seen 60% of our patients treated for depression go into remission (meaning they’re no longer clinically depressed), whereas ECT improvements are harder to track, although reports suggest around 22% of patients enter remission.