TMS and ECT are two cranial therapies used to treat a variety of mood disorders and mental illnesses (most popularly depression). So, is TMS the same as ECT? No. ECT, also known as electro shock therapy, is often seen as a “last resort” treatment. ECT causes generalized seizures in the brain whereas TMS is a much gentler treatment that targets specific areas of the brain with far less, to no, side effects. A TMS patient can go to a quick appointment and proceed with their daily activities.

What Are the Main Differences Between TMS and ECT?

ECT treatment is probably something you’ve seen in a movie. ECT involves directing an electric current into a patient’s brain via electrodes that are attached to the scalp. This method causes a series of seizures in the brain. While statistically effective against severe cases of mental illness, ECT is typically not thought of, by patients or doctors, as a desirable treatment.

ECT at a glance:

  • This treatment is usually administered in a hospital
  • The patient is sedated and immobilized during treatment
  • Widely associated with side effects such as severe memory loss
  • Used in mental health emergencies when the patient exhibit extremely acute symptoms
  • Patients must take a temporary leave from work
  • Often independent living is difficult following treatment
  • In home care professionals are often needed before the patient can return to normal capacity

TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation and is sometimes known as repetitive transcranial stimulation or TMS. It is, in contrast to ECT, a gentle, non-invasive method that stimulates specific regions of the brain. It is a sophisticated, proven, and patient-preferred alternative to ECT.

TMS at a glance:

  • This therapy is generally administered in a doctor’s office or out-patient setting
  • Patients are awake and relaxed during treatment
  • There are, commonly, no side effects to TMS
  • High intensity pulsed magnetic beams stimulate neuronal activity to create gentle, non-seizure inducing, electric currents in the brain
  • Patients take a small part of their day to receive TMS treatment and then return to their normal lives
  • No in home care or leave from work is required

Will TMS Work For Me?

Always consult your doctor first, but considering TMS as an alternative to medication or talk therapy is becoming a popular choice. TMS is a small time investment that could cure your depression, or other mental illness, with no side effects. If you are experiencing severe psychotic breaks or wanting to harm yourself or others, ECT might be the better option for you. Again, ECT is commonly seen as a last resort treatment due to its invasive nature and associated side effects, but it does produce results in the most severe cases of mental illness.
If you are like the majority of Americans that suffer from non-severe depression, TMS is the better and safer option. GatewayTMS is a provider of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the St. Louis area. For a more convenient and relaxed approach to treating depression, call (314) 909-8487 to set up an appointment.