TMS Therapy VS. ECT

What are the differences between the two treatments?

About The Treatments...

TMS Therapy

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, uses short pulses of a magnetic field (similar to an MRI) to modulate, or stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain which controls mood. The pulsed magnetic field has been shown to have a positive effect on the brain’s neurotransmitter levels.


  • A round of TMS Therapy is typically five days a week for six weeks during scheduled office visits.

  • Each session lasts between 15-40 minutes.

  • 72% of patients have an over 50% reduction in symptoms.

  • 43% of patients experience remission from symptoms.

  • TMS Therapy is a non-systemic process (meaning nothing is circulating in your bloodstream throughout your body). 

  • Because there is no anesthesia or other medication necessary, you can drive yourself to and from your appointments and immediately return to your regular activities.

  • TMS Therapy is a non-invasive (meaning it doesn't involve surgery) form of neuromodulation (using magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain) that improves the symptoms of depression.

  • Some patients experience discomfort of the scalp during the first week, but no long lasting side effects.

  • As shown in the picture below, the TMS device is administered locally, on or near the forehead. Patients can even read during the treatment.


ECT Treatment

Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT, was formerly known as Electroshock Therapy and was often referred to as shock treatment. It is, and has been a standard psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in patients to provide relief from psychiatric illnesses.[1]


  • A round of ECT involves multiple administrations, typically ten sessions given two or three times per week, until the patient is no longer suffering symptoms. 
  • A round of ECT is effective for about 50% of people with "treatment-resistant major depressive disorder", whether it is unipolar or bipolar.[4] 

  • Follow-up treatment is still poorly studied, but about 50% of people who respond to the treatment relapse within twelve months.[5]
  • ECT is administered under anesthetic with a muscle relaxant.[9]
  • ECT therapy can differ in its application in three ways: electrode placement, frequency of treatments, and the electrical waveform of the stimulus. These three forms of application have significant differences in both adverse side effects and symptom remission. After treatment drug therapy is usually continued; some patients receive maintenance ECT.[3] 
  • Aside from effects in the brain, the general physical risks of ECT are similar to those of brief general anesthesia.[6]:259 Immediately following treatment, the most common adverse effects are confusion and memory loss.[3][7] 




Treatment Considerations...

Treatment Considerations

1. What is the treatment? →

2. How many sessions? →

3. What is the Indication or risk level of depression? →


4. How convenient is the treatment? →


5. What are the out-of-pocket costs if you pay yourself? →

6. Does insurance cover treatment? →

7. Are there side effects? →

8. What is the efficacy of treatment? →

9. Is there post treatment necessary? →

TMS Therapy

1. TMS uses magnetic coils to create electrical currents that stimulate the brain.

2. Typically 30-36 sessions over a six-week period.
3. Considered a first-level of treatment, a Psychiatrist prescribes TMS when previous attempts at treating depression have produced unsatisfactory results. 

4. Treatment is very convenient. You can drive yourself to and from appointments which take place in a doctor's office. TMS is minimally invasive and anesthesia-free.  

5. Every insurance is different, which is why TMS Solutions runs a Benefits Investigation for each patient.

6. Currently, all insurers cover treatment. We provide patient advocacy on your behalf.
7. Scalp irritation and headaches can possibly occur for the first week.  Very rarely, seizures have been reported.

8. 72% of patients have an over 50% reduction in symptoms. 43% of patients receive complete remission.

9. Patients may need occasional maintenance or Reintroduction afterward.  They may be able to reduce or discontinue medication upon their Psychiatrist's approval. 

ECT Therapy

1. ECT, formerly known as shock therapy, uses an electrical current to create a therapeutic seizure, which causes a dramatic reset of the brain. 
2. Typically 10 sessions over a four-week period. The first three sessions require hospitalization.
3. A psychiatrist prescribes ECT when previous attempts at treating depression have produced unsatisfactory results, the depression is serious, a patient is possibly suicidal, or nothing else works.
4. Treatments are short and require anesthesia and muscle relaxants (hospitalization for the first three treatments). Transportation has to be arranged to and from each session, as patients require 2-3 hours to recover.
5. Treatment costs $2,500 per session or $25,000, plus one week of hospital care, which is not included. ( estimates $50,000 for one week in the hospital).
6. Most insurers cover the treatment.

7. Headaches, muscle aches, cognition issues, short-term memory issues, possible long-term memory loss, and in some cases, possible improvement in memory.
8. Initial efficacy is 50-80% . However, about 64-84% of patients who respond relapse within six months.
9.  After treatment, drug therapy/medication is usually continued, and some patients receive maintenance ECT.