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Forums / Treatments, health professionals and therapies / Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and MAOIs

Topic: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and MAOIs

  1. Tinker69
    Tinker69 avatar
    11 posts
    13 March 2015
    Has anyone had transcranial magnetic stimulation? My psychiatrist wants me to try this treatment as nothing else seems to be working. I have googled about TMS but there does not seem to be many personal accounts from people undertaking this treatment. From my reading it takes between 4 to 6 weeks and treatments are about 30 minutes to an hour each day. It appears to be very safe with no anaesthetic required. I would really like to find out from a real person what it was like, if it worked and whether you relapsed after about 6 months etc. Also do you continue to take ADs while undergoing the treatment. I  am currently on MAOIs. This requires a strict diet. I am increasing the dosage of the MAOIs over the next couple of weeks. Has anyone else taken MAOIs? How did you feel about the diet? I do not seem to have any adverse effects from the Medication which I have been on for about 3 months. They do not seem to actually do anything for me which is why the Psych wants me to try TMS. Over the years I have been on so many different ADs and they don't seem to work for me.  Would appreciate hearing about anyone else's experience with TMS or MAOIs.
    2 people found this helpful
  2. Chris B
    Community Manager
    • Works for beyondblue managing these forums. Not a mental health professional, but here to help. Email:
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Chris B avatar
    1757 posts
    17 March 2015 in reply to Tinker69

    Hi Tinker69,

    Sorry you haven't had a reply on this, but as you probably know this is a form of treatment still relatively rare in Australia (the Melbourne Clinic lists it under their Innovative Treatments for Depression page).

    Below is some information from the beyondblue What Works For Depression resource, which gives a summary of the evidence base for all different types of treatments.

    If you're after some anecdotes from people who have tried TMS, try adding the word "forums" to the end of your Google search - I was able to find some international forums that way which had some posts from patients.


    2 people found this helpful
  3. Neil_1
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    Neil_1 avatar
    4232 posts
    17 March 2015

    Hi there tinker


    Welcome to Beyond Blue and thanx for providing a very interesting post, and you’ve posed a number of good questions.


    I’m hoping that someone out there in Beyond Blue land will be able to provide you with the kinds of advice that you’re after.


    One thing I’d be checking on though is with your current medication;   and you’ve asked the very question, about whether you still take it while undergoing this treatment.  Because if you should be ‘off’ your medication AND you’re going to increase the dosage over the next couple of weeks, then it’s going to take some time for you to get off this medication, as it should be a slow and steady removal of dosage of meds, before completely going to the wash-out phase.  So certainly worth finding out about that.  Even from your psyche if you have another appointment soon.


    Kind regards



  4. Tinker69
    Tinker69 avatar
    11 posts
    17 March 2015 in reply to Neil_1

    Hi Chris and Neil,

    Thanks for both your responses. The information Chris provided seems to match what I have been able to google. I really appreciate the advices on adding forums to my search. I will hopefully be able to get more  information from  those websites. I was hoping people on this site had some experience but as Chris said it is fairly new in Australia. I guess I will be able to tell people about my experience when I start. Apparently I am waiting for a bed to become available. I think you can do this as an outpatient but as I do not live in Sydney so I am guessing that is why they want to put me in hospital.

    The MAOIs don't seem to be helping my mood. I was on a low dose so that may have been why. I will double my dose over the next two weeks. Then if I have not started TMS by the time I am supposed to go back to my psych I will be increasing The number of tablets again. I have been on them since Xmas so should have seen some improvement. All I do is sleep. I don't mind the diet too much. It would have been nice to talk to someone else on this type of medication. As they are rarely prescribed now I guess this forum does not have anyone on them. 

    I will update this post on my experience with TMS as I go so others can see what it is like. Might be a few weeks away though


    1 person found this helpful
  5. damnit
    damnit avatar
    4 posts
    21 March 2015 in reply to Tinker69
    Hi, I was part of a TMS trial a few years ago and in my opinion it was a waste of time. I received it 5 times a week for 4 weeks. It had almost no effect on my depression and any benefit disappeared within a week. There was a lot of hope that it would work at first but long term studies are showing that it has a low success rate and the effect quickly fades. I believe the success rate actually falls into what is scientifically accepted to be the placebo effect (30% or less). I had no side affects from the treatment apart from minor headaches but as I said it was of no help.
  6. desperate
    desperate avatar
    3 posts
    24 March 2015 in reply to Tinker69
    Hi Tinker69 . This is my first post so bare with me . A bit disorientated this morning . Diagnosed with Major Depression 15 + years ago seemed to go into remission for much of this time then suffered a major crash 18 months ago after losing my job a couple of weeks after that lost a large boat in an accident then my mother passed away . triple wammy and here I am suffering big time as for many of us . Tried all the meds and cocktails , ECT , hospitalised twice , supplements /vitamins . Tried many jobs mostly away from home . Couldn't cope resigned from them all . Psyc Doc has recommended TMS which will be introduced into my local MH clinic in April . I am on medication and have been for quite a while . No affect . He said IF I go ahead with TMS he will take me of the MAOI and try another drug whilst participating in TMS . Will need hospitalising for 30 days one session of TMS every week day .  Wish I could find someone with a positive result on this procedure in Australia . Plenty from USA when you search? Hope this helps.  Good luck
    1 person found this helpful
  7. Tinker69
    Tinker69 avatar
    11 posts
    24 March 2015 in reply to damnit

    Hi Damnit and Desperate, thank you both for responding to my post. Damnit it is very disappointing to read that your TMS experience was a failure. I was hoping for better news on the results. I am very grateful for your post as I really wanted to hear from someone on BB.

    Desperate you sound as if your treatment is similar to mine. I have been diagnosed with major depression for about Fifteen years too. I have been hospitalised a couple of times and tried so many different cocktail of drugs it's hard to remember them all. I have been offered ECT but have not done it as I am scared of the memory loss. I find it strange that you are going off MAOIs to do the treatment and my psych is increasing mine to 6 tablets a day. Everyone is different I guess. 

    I was saddened to read about all the awful things that have happened to you. No wonder you are relapsing. I have been off work for nearly 12 months now. I have not lost my job yet but am being assessed to find out if I can go back. I want to work just not in the area I was in as it was a horrible place. I am not well enough to go back for a while yet. 

    We may be undertaking the TMS at the same time. Did you read Damnit's post. Not very promising. I am willing to give it a go as nothing else is working. Still not sure when a bed will be made available, it's been two weeks since I saw the psych. I only know that it will be somewhere in Sydney.

    I look forward to hearing more of both your journeys. Thank you both once again for posting. I will continue to post here as things progress. It would be great if you Desperate could also post your progress too. That way maybe we can help others who are considering this treatment. Sending you both big hugs.


  8. Liz99
    Liz99 avatar
    2 posts
    24 March 2015

    Hi Tinker69,

    Truly sorry to hear about what ur going through. I can relate and hopefully add a bit of my experience with MAIOs and TMS. I'll try and be as brief as possible. 

    I'm in my late 20's and have suffered depression for 13 years. I have been diagnosed with treatment resistant major depression as well as ocd & anxiety. And subsequently have tried all the types of antidepressants over the last 10 years, as well as counseling, psychologists & psychotherapists & weekly group therapy. And have had 5 hospital stays in the last 2 years. 

    Fearing i had nothing left and despite my psychiatrist advising TMS doesn't have much proven effect- I did it anyway! I live in Sydney but as the only place offering TMS im sorry to say left me nervy I went to Melbourne late last year for treatment. I had 20 treatments over 4 weeks to my left side. Unfortunately in my case it didnt prove successful.  But a few others around me were praising TMS and others unfort like me, it didnt help. Side effects - during my face twitched which I will say did hurt. But no beauty without pain right? A loud nose but theres headphones for that. Occasionally my eyes watered. Afterwards - I had a headache and my jawline hurt. But both go away. Its uncomfortable but I would do anything to feel better! And I had nothing to lose.

    MAIOs - I've been on both a MAIO & a Reversible MAIO over the last 2 years. Both gave me side effects but I persisted. I was on MAIO for 1 year and reversible MAIO for 7 months - in combination with other meds.  Unfortunately for me neither helped, even less so on the reversible MAIO. 

     I'm sorry I could not fill nor end this post on a more positive note. But I honestly wish you luck. If I had my time again I'd still try both MAIOs and TMS.


    2 people found this helpful
  9. damnit
    damnit avatar
    4 posts
    24 March 2015 in reply to Tinker69
    Hi Tinker69 and desperate. It sounds like we have quite a few things in common. I had been tried on about 20 antidepressants antipsychotics and even epilepsy medication to try and help my depression. When I was undergoing TMS I was not on any medication at the time. For the study I had to continue with whatever  psychiatric medications I was on at the time which where nil so I was a clean slate so to speak for the effects of TMS. The studies I have read about its effectiveness that have shown a major benefit seem to be clouded by the fact that the amount of medication they have been on has changed after the TMS which in my eye nullifies the result. I found one glowing study for a particular method of TMS but on reading the fine print the study was funded by the equipment manufacturer. Id like to hear how the two of you go and what length the treatments are and the position of the magnet (Curious to see if anything has changed). As I said before, The only side effect is I got minor headaches after some treatments and I had a bit of a facial muscle spasm whilst undergoing treatment which I was told was due to the magnet activating the nerve. Looking forward to hearing about your experiences
  10. Tinker69
    Tinker69 avatar
    11 posts
    25 March 2015 in reply to Liz99

    Dear Liz thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. It sounds as if you are truly doing it tough. I don't have OCD but I do have the anxiety. I don't seem to have any side effects from my medication so far. It's been about 3 months give or take. Today I increase the dosage so will see how I go. I am expecting that it will be fine. Damnit seems to have had a similar experience to yourself with the therapy which is a bit concerning. I still intend to give it a go as I am desperate to feel even slightly better than what I do now. All of us are suffering and we deserve the opportunity to feel normal (whatever that is). I am very grateful to both you and Damnit for sharing your experiences. It helps to have some understanding of what the therapy may be like. Hopefully a bed becomes available soon. My husband is about to go away with work so I am a bit worried he will be away when I get the bed. I have one child left at home and although she is 17 I don't want to leave her on her own. She also suffers from depression and anxiety. She is doing year 12 so I am really hoping that the hospital stay does not coincide with hubby being away. I am lucky that her older sister lives near by and can help out if required. Once again thanks to everyone who has shared their experiences. I am sure this thread will help others as well.


  11. desperate
    desperate avatar
    3 posts
    26 March 2015 in reply to Tinker69

    Hi Tinka69 sorry for slow reply , Struggling big time at the moment getting out of bed is a chore . The clinic I may be having TMS done through hasn't commissioned the machine yet and it wont be available until late April . Not sure if I will proceed but may have no choice . Hopefully I may recover enough to not do it but I am not that optimistic at this time . Can you keep me posted if you continue with this procedure . Desperately after feed back as I have not got a lot of options left . Meeting with a guy today that is a personal trainer in my district that has suffered from depression for 10 years . He may be able to help with getting out there . As I said getting out of bed is hard at the moment . Hopefully he can instil some hope into me . Please stay in touch Thanks


  12. Liz99
    Liz99 avatar
    2 posts
    26 March 2015 in reply to Tinker69

    Afternoon Tinker69,

    I forgot to mention the other day that I had to be stable on my meds for at least 1month, meaning no changes or increases in order to be accepted into TMS. Why? Because if you start TMS and you feel better they wont know if it was because of the meds or TMS. And as TMS is still a clinical trial here in Australia this is important. 

    Hopefully this is a positive thing for you and will mean your treatment will still be a little while off as you indicated you have just increased your MAIO and that your husband will be home for the kids when you go for TMS treatment.

     I met people in hospital who could not speak more highly of what TMS was able to do for them. I sincerely hope u are one of these people.

    Best of luck


  13. Bipolarbabette
    Bipolarbabette avatar
    1 posts
    11 April 2015 in reply to Tinker69

    Hi Tinker69, this is my first post but having had 45 TMS treatments I thought I might have something to add!

    I have bipolar, so bouts of bad depression and mania, particularly over the last 10 years, as well as severe anxiety. I have tried all the meds under the Sun and am now resistant to most of them or they give me horrible side effects. So when TMS was back on the table I thought terrific! No drugs, no side-effects and I could see that it did work for some people in the hospital. You can read about the ins and outs on the web, but essentially everyone has a different threshold for the waves to penetrate their skull, this can mean that it's painless for some people whilst I needed migraine prophylactics, paradeine forte, and anti-anxiety meds before each session.Then I was fine and just listened to music.

    I had 20 sessions on the left side - no joy. 25 on the right - no change to depression whatsoever. However for others around me it worked a treat. It was a crap shoot. Only kicker is that if it works you have to come back every 3-5 weeks for 3 or 4 days for maintenance. And where I was that was as an in-patient! So you're wedded to this schedule. And considering some people were changing meds at the same time it was unclear whether their improvement was all down to TMS. However I saw enough people changed to be convinced that it DOES help some people. Just not me. For some of them it was a viable alternative to ECT.

    I'm still looking for that magic formula - but more in psychology than psychiatry now. Hope my experiences are of some interest to someone.

    3 people found this helpful
  14. Cazzab
    Cazzab avatar
    1 posts
    14 September 2015
    Similarly to others - I am very wary of ECT coz of the side effects - but my psych has suggested TMS. This being less invasive sounds more appealing to me - but I am not in a position to take 4 weeks off work to have this done. Has anyone done this as an outpatient and been able to continue working as normal? And also - does anyone know the cost involved as an outpatient if not covered by private health?
    1 person found this helpful
  15. DontlettheTURKEYSgetyoudown
    DontlettheTURKEYSgetyoudown avatar
    1 posts
    10 March 2016 in reply to Tinker69
    Thanks for posting. Currently I am on day 9 of treatment. Too late to advise you. I wish I had stumbled on your post a year ago. I would have been more prepared for the treatment. I hope you are travelling along ok.
  16. Wah
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Wah avatar
    18 posts
    18 July 2016
    Does anyone know if TMS is avail via the public health system in Melbourne? At one Clinic you have to be an inpatient for a 4 week period and its $1000 a bed day with no health insurance. I read an article on a Monash research program, but not sure how that is accessed.
  17. Wah
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Wah avatar
    18 posts
    18 July 2016 in reply to DontlettheTURKEYSgetyoudown
    Dontlettheturkeys... How did the treatment go for you?
  18. whinny
    whinny avatar
    1 posts
    7 September 2016 in reply to Wah

    Hi Wah,

    My husband had to get private health cover to have TMS. He had to be covered for 2 months before he could access cover in a hospital in Melbourne. Most other conditions require 12 months cover beforehand but Mental Health is different. We got top cover as we knew he would be accessing it ASAP and therefore we pay nothing extra when he goes in for maintenance every 5 weeks. This consists of going in Friday morning, having 5 treatments whilst he is there and leaving first thing Monday morning. He has been having it now for over 3 years and I thank his Dr all the time for suggesting it. He suffers from chronic depression and hated the side effects of ECT. He is still taking his prescribed meds as well.

  19. Mama G
    Mama G avatar
    2 posts
    9 September 2016 in reply to Tinker69
    I have just completed my first round of treatment of TMS in Perth. 25. 1 session everyday. I noticed a difference after the 4th one. I'm now interested in the maintenance side of things but it's a bit up in the air as it is a new treatment at the clinic I attend. I remained on normal meds all way through. It was completely non invasive and I suffered no side effects unlike when I had ECT. It was like a miracle but 3 weeks after I feel it wearing off... I'm seeing my Dr next week though.
    1 person found this helpful
  20. tweetheart
    tweetheart avatar
    25 posts
    10 October 2016 in reply to Wah
    The Alfred Hospital is conducting an outpatient TMS trial. If accepted all treatment is free.
    1 person found this helpful
  21. The Rat
    The Rat avatar
    1 posts
    11 November 2016

    11 October 2016

    Hi, I have suffered with Major Depressive Disorder for over 5 years now and have spent at least over 2 of those years as an inpatient, currently objecting readmission! I have four children (2x17yr just about to finish school and 2x13yr). It has been a very hard time for my husband and my family. I have tried many meds unsuccessfully, many psychology sessions and programs unsuccessfully, and at last count which was a long time ago I had had 100 ECT treatments. Unfortunately this has caused me a great deal of memory loss. My psych mention to me about TMS yesterday. I was wondering if anyone has had success with this treatment, and what sort of impact on the day of treatment occurs. Also has anyone had this treatment who also has epilepsy have had seizures or other problems following. I need to be able to stop 'rattling' with the amount of medications I take, that don't seem to work anyway, and be able to re-enter this world a better person without this illness. I'm at my wits end that there is nothing else to try, and despite all my associated problems with the depression this may just be my last hope. so please if anyone can provide me with there experiences that would be gratefully accepted. Thank you

    1 person found this helpful
  22. gabagool
    gabagool avatar
    3 posts
    18 November 2016 in reply to tweetheart

    how can one go about inquiring about this trial?

    do you think one can still sign up?

  23. Nonz
    Nonz avatar
    1 posts
    23 November 2016 in reply to gabagool

    Hi everyone,

    I suffer from ptsd, anxiety and depression after traumas. I am currently on meds and an inpatient. My psychiatrist has offered tms and wants to start Monday. I like the sound of it as I have nothing to lose and it seems quite non-invasive in terms of not needing an anaesthetic, memory loss etc associated with ect.

    I am just wondering about other people's experiences of tms. Was it helpful? Did it work? What kind of results did you get? I saw the Dr who delivers the treatment today and he said the success rate is around 60% which isn't really that high I didn't think. What he wants to do is not excite neurons in my left side but dull neurone in my right side (I think I have the lobes correct) which is apparently effective for PTSD.

    I have enjoyed reading all of the posts and look forward to anyone who can shed a bit of light on this for me.

    Thank you guys


  24. Torquil
    Torquil avatar
    2 posts
    17 January 2017

    I have suffered from depression for almost 20 years and have been on a number of anti-depressants that didn't really help. I have had two rounds of TMS treatment as an inpatient in Sydney - in April/May 2016 and in December. Each time 10 treatments, once per day.

    Both times TMS has worked incredibly for me. The first time it was like a switch after the 5th or 6th treatment - literally all the negative thoughts went. They wanted me to come back after 3-4 months but i was busy at work so waited 8 months which was too long as I had deteriorated, but again within 5 or 6 treatments I was feeling great. I got out just before Christmas and was able to cope really well, and am still doing well despite some setbacks in life.

    I am still on antidepressants and will be indefinitely, but TMS has been a miracle for me. Next stop would have been ECT and/or more time in hospital. Now I plan to go in every 3 or 4 months for 10-12 days. I do have top private health care, and run my own business so it is manageable for me.

    I feel lucky that it really did work for me.

    3 people found this helpful
  25. david3000
    david3000 avatar
    1 posts
    1 February 2017 in reply to Torquil

    Thankyou Torquil for sharing your experience with TMS.

    For others considering it or interested below is my limited experience.

    As someone classified as having "Treatment Resistant Chronic Major Depression" I was accepted into a clinical trial a few years ago. This involved 5 day/week treatment over 6 weeks, with cognitive tests prior to and after the treatment. Within the confines of the clinical trial and assessments, my depression did not lift dramatically particularly from a mood perspective (which appeared to be a key evaluation criteria of the trail). However, some of my cognitive abilities ie clarity of thought, processing of information, concentration etc did improve markedly. I first noticed a distinct change after about 2 weeks including seeing colours brighter, feeling the sensation of breeze on my skin, and increased energy. These effects wore off after about 2 months however.

    I have been treated for depression/managed for more than 30 years. Other than the time commitment required I found it less invasive that ECT (which for me required a 3 month inpatient treatment in the early 90's) and didn't have the side effects of various drugs (fatigue and general numbing of the senses). For those that have the financial means, or have access to a clinical trail, I would recommend giving it a try as part of suite of tools to manage depression.


    2 people found this helpful
  26. baltlinc
    baltlinc avatar
    1 posts
    11 February 2017 in reply to david3000
    Is this treatment available in Adelaide?
  27. styx17
    styx17 avatar
    1 posts
    23 March 2017 in reply to Torquil

    Hi Torquil,

    I live in Sydney too and am considering TMS. Where did you have TMS treatment as an inpatient in Sydney?


  28. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6818 posts
    23 March 2017 in reply to styx17
    Hi everyone, as this is an anonymous forum we are unable to share details about treatment facilities or health professionals.  There are a number of facilities with information on their websites about this treatment, we would suggest googling TMS and your area for further details.
  29. Chris80
    Chris80 avatar
    1 posts
    4 August 2017
    Ok I'm trying to see if public hospitals in NSW are available. I'm lucky I got into a private one here in Brisbane... let me tell you 5 treatments is no where near enough... I had 20 first time and I went from self-harm, suicidal, and feeling numb to coming off meds within 8 months. I felt fantastic. Over the past 21mths I have found Department of Veterans Affairs and I have become very depressed again. I am currently in for another 30 treatments... it's defiantly a miracle I'm still alive had I not had this treatment. Back in 2012 it was a clinical trial when I had it... now it's not but I swear by it... 
    1 person found this helpful
  30. MarkieMark
    MarkieMark avatar
    2 posts
    21 September 2017

    My life has been changed by TMS - Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

    As a 53 yo man I was diagnosed with major depression five years ago. For me, my experience has been days or sometimes weeks of 'episodes' where I struggle to get through the day and can't work. I'd feel absolutely devastated, crying or close to tears the whole time, obsessive suicide thought, etc. High doses of various medications sometimes seemed to work for a while, but then didn't.

    I was admitted to a trial in Adelaide after waiting six months. The treatment was easy - four 5-minute treatments spaced twenty minutes apart over 5 days interspersed over two weeks, plus follow-up assessments. So 20 short sessions in all.

    From being a driveling mess I started feeling some relief after three days. After the two weeks I was feeling completely normal. Actually a different feeling to the relief I would occasionally feel in the past after increasing medication doses. Just... normal. Like someone switched on the lights. My formal assessments went from an extreme end of the scale to complete remission.

    This was four months ago and I am still doing well. I have had a few bad days, but those debilitating episodes have rarely lasted more than a day.

    My subjective perception is that the TMS 'clears' the pathways. Those trains of thoughts that take you down familiar roads to the despair. I feel the TMS helped me to not continuously 'slide' down those pathways.

    I have practiced mindfulness meditation for many years. While I eventually found myself unable to break through the blackness of depression through meditation (after many years staving off depression through meditation), it felt like TMS helped clear my inner landscape, allowing me to meditate again. I feel this practice has been indispensable as a follow-up to the TMS.

    Especially for a few weeks of the treatment, I experienced 'trains of thoughts' that I needed to keep away from. It could have been easy to slide into the old despair, but I was able to avoid that with help from meditation. Over time this has no longer been a problem. Like, now I am used to being normal. Oh what a relief!

    (I know this might not last and I may need to fly interstate to access TMS. It's simply not available in Adelaide as a therapy.)

    So my strong suggestion is that the TMS should be followed up with some sort of talking therapy or meditation practice to help clear the old 'pathways' or trains of thought. Even if talking therapy hasn't been helpful in the past.

    1 person found this helpful

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