Treating Depression Without Medication

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TMS Treats Depression Without Medication

Many antidepressant side effects are so disruptive to everyday life that some patients will choose to stop taking them. Failure to take depression medications is a factor in treatment-resistant depression. TMS therapy, sometimes called magnetic therapy, offers a non-invasive answer to the question of “how to treat depression without medication?”

How Does TMS Work?

TMS therapy is a non-invasive, easily-tolerated treatment for severe or treatment-resistant depression that is less disruptive to the lives of patients and their families and more appropriate than other therapies. If you’ve ever wondered how to get out of depression without meds, TMS could be an answer

  • TMS treatment is administered by a specially trained technician, under the supervision of a psychiatrist, placing a magnetic coil against the scalp near the forehead. The coil emits a magnetic pulse that stimulates increased brain cell activity in this area, which regulates mood and emotional response. The specific amount of stimulation needed is determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Any side effects following TMS treatment will be assessed by the attending physician after the session. Some patients take over-the-counter medications to address headaches they experience, if any.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation is often referred to as “magnetic therapy” or magnetic treatment for depression. The proper medical terminology is “magnetic stimulation” due to the use of magnetic pulses to transform the neural networks of the brain.

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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Is Commonly Referred To As Shock Therapy for Depression

A different method familiar to many is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Commonly referred to as electroshock therapy or electric shock therapy, ECT treatment has been available for about 70 years. ECT treatment uses electric shocks to trigger seizures in an attempt to change structural components of neural activity. ECT treatment can cause memory loss and disorientation, along with a host of other severe side effects.

TMS Is Very Different From ECT

  • ECT or TMS? ECT and TMS are both considered somatic therapies, but there are key differences. TMS therapy uses magnets instead of electric shock and is much more easily tolerated.
  • TMS treatment does not require the use of anesthesia, unlike ECT, which requires the use of anesthesia and muscle relaxers.
  • TMS treatment sessions are brief and patients can return to normal everyday activities immediately; ECT treatment can sometimes involve inpatient hospital stays.
  • ECT side effects can be so serious as to rule it out as a therapeutic possibility for many patients; side effects for TMS, on the contrary, are few, mild and short-lived.
  • TMS therapy also works to treat depression without medications, whereas patients who undergo ECT will sometimes need to take depression medication, as well.
  • TMS also has a longer durability of benefit, meaning that the positive effects of TMS treatment endure over time.

How Is Deep TMS Different From Repetitive TMS?

Active Recovery administers Deep TMS and rTMS transcranial magnetic therapy (TMS) at our facilities. Deep TMS and rTMS treatments differ in the size and depth of the area targeted with magnetic pulses. However, both types of TMS therapy have been effective for our patients. Our providers will work with you to determine the best fit for your course of treatment during your clinical evaluation. Each TMS or rTMS session takes about 20 minutes.

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