rTMS vs ECT Comparison


Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation vs ElectroConvulsive Therapy

ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, is a treatment which has been used for many years for treating severe depression.

rTMS is a much newer treatment, but is showing clear advantages for patients and practitioners.

ECT Treatment – How it Works

ECT involves use of an electric shock to cause a controlled seizure in the whole brain which after a number of sessions may reduce symptoms of depression.

The patient is treated using electrodes on the scalp through which an electric current is delivered to the brain, causing a brief controlled seizure. Treatment is carried out under general anaesthetic with the attendant risks and the main side effect of short term memory loss.

rTMS – How it Works

rTMS stands for Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The treatment involves delivering bursts of highly concentrated magnetic field to the left prefrontal cortex (rather than an electric shock).

Unlike ECT, treatment requires no anaesthetic or sedation. A special machine is used and treatment is delivered via a magnetic head rather than electrodes. Crucially, the shape of the field can be controlled so that treatment is delivered to exactly the right area. This means that risk of significant side-effects is much lower. Most patients have no side effects  at all, some report mild and transient discomfort, and seizures are extremely rare.

RTMS Treatment, UK

rTMS is NICE approved for treating severe depression in the UK, if applied to relevant cortical regions.

There is relatively little availability on the NHS, but treatment is available for private patients in centres such as Smart TMS, London.


Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a technological breakthrough in the treatment of depression. Research is now showing potential for treating a variety of other conditions too, without the need for medication, by working directly on the relevant area of the brain.

The treatment is now available in London, based at The Smart Clinics Brompton Cross (South Kensington).


For any queries or to book an appointment, please contact us:

Tel: 0345 222 5678

Email: info@smarttms.co.uk