Nationally speaking, roughly 70-80% of people who receive TMS treatment improve. This is a very important number in that these are cases in which MEDICATION DID NOT WORK! So, these are the most difficult cases, and up to 80% of these most difficult cases receive benefit! Of these 30+% have a complete remission of their symptoms.
To understand how successful TMS is, it’s important to understand just how successful medications are. A large clinical study funded by the NIMH called the STAR*D study found that commonly prescribed medications, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), are only successful 27.5% of the time. However, if the SSRI doesn’t work (as is the case for many individuals with treatment-resistant depression), the success rate for subsequent trials of medication decreases. By the time an individual has tried 4 medications, the success rate for the next medication working is less than 7%. We know that medication trials can take 1-2 months to even gauge whether or not a particular antidepressant may work for a patient. This means that many individuals spend 4-8 months trying different medications when the probability of improvement is negligible. Not to mention, increased medications mean that there is an increased risk for negative side-effects from medications, such as:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Increased appetite and/or weight gain
- Insomnia (sleeping too little) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
- Agitation and/or irritability
This is where TMS proves to be so exciting. Even people who are beginning to feel hopeless that anything can help them can actually be helped by TMS and get their life back.