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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Day programs

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (or TMS) is a non-invasive, mild form of brain stimulation. It’s increasingly being used in Australia for the treatment of depression when other treatments such as antidepressant medication and psychotherapy have not been effective.

TMS works by stimulating electrical activity and chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which play a role in the regulation of mood. 

How does TMS work?

TMS uses highly focused magnetic pulses to stimulate neurons in the areas of the brain which can be underactive in people with depression and other mental illnesses. A coil is placed on the scalp and magnetic fields are used to either lower or increase electrical signals in the brain to stimulate it to return to normal functioning.

Although treatment needs vary from person to person, about 20 to 30 sessions are recommended, with each session lasting between 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your specific prescription. Treatment given over consecutive weekdays is recommended for the best therapeutic effect. For people who respond well to treatment, many people see a benefit within days to weeks.

Who can have TMS?

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) clinical practice guidelines for mood disorders endorse the use of TMS for adults with non-psychotic depression who have not been helped by one or more trials of standard antidepressant medications or psychological therapy.

Your treating psychiatrist will conduct a thorough clinical and safety assessment to determine if TMS is a suitable treatment for you. All candidates for TMS treatment at Matilda Nepean require a referral from their treating psychiatrist or GP. Some candidates may not be suitable due to the use of magnetic fields.

What happens during a session of TMS?

You will be awake throughout the TMS treatment session. There are no medications, so you can return to your usual activities, including driving a car, once it’s finished.

Staff will show you the procedure room and answer any questions you may have. You will lie in a comfortable reclining chair and wear earplugs for hearing protection. When treatment starts, you may hear a soft clicking noise and feel a tapping sensation on your scalp.

Are there any side effects of TMS?

TMS is reported to be a safe and well-tolerated treatment with generally minimal side effects. Any side effects reduce in intensity and frequency as the course of TMS progresses. There are no known long-term adverse effects of TMS therapy.

The most common mild side effects of TMS therapy are headache, facial muscle twitching, light-headedness, nausea and fatigue, and they soon resolve. Serious side effects are rare but may include seizures, mania in patients with bipolar disorder, and short-term hearing loss if protection isn’t used during the session.

Patient and nurse at Matilda Nepean

What is the cost of TMS treatment?

An initial TMS mapping session costs $250, and there is a Medicare rebate of $166.80 for eligible patients. Ongoing sessions are $200 with a Medicare rebate of $143.15.

To be eligible for a Medicare rebate, patients must be aged over 18 years, have tried two or more anti-depressants, have a referral from a GP or psychiatrist, have a Medicare card, and have not been treated with TMS prior to 1 November 2021. If you have reached your Medicare safety net higher rebates may apply.

We understand the financial pressures many people are facing. Therefore we ask for payment following each session, rather than paying for a treatment block in advance. TMS services may be covered by your private health insurance, DVA, ADF, Third Party or Workers Compensation. Our friendly admin team can ascertain any eligibility.

Learn more or enquire about treatment

To learn more about TMS at Matilda Nepean, download our TMS therapy brochure below. If you would like to enquire further about TMS or discuss your particular needs, please contact Jacki Maher on tel: 8123 6790 or email: mentalhealth@matildanepean.com.au.

Our Doctors

Our doctors are highly experienced consultants in this specialised field of medicine.

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