TMS is non-systemic, so it does not have side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, sedation, among others. The most common side effects reported during clinical trials were headache and scalp pain or discomfort — generally mild to moderate — occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment.
Neither NeuroStar TMS nor Brainsway deep TMS were compared in head-to-head studies with antidepressant medications. It is difficult to compare TMS vs. drugs, because they have been studied in different patient populations. The patients for which TMS has been FDA-cleared have failed multiple treatment attempts, one of which achieved an adequate dose and duration. Almost all antidepressant medications have been studied and approved for 1st-line treatment. In the randomized controlled trial, almost three times the number of TMS patients had a significant improvement in symptoms compared to those started on medication if at least 3 previous medications have already been tried.
Like any treatment option, patients and clinicians should work together to find the most appropriate treatment option for each patient.
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