Two types of procedures used to treat depression are electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Although both have proven to be effective in their care, there are considerable differences in how these two procedures operate. Visit FLORIDA TMS CLINIC.

Electroconvulsive medicine

Originally introduced as a medical procedure in the 1930s, ECT has come a long way as regards efficacy and safety. Mental conditions in which ECT has been successful in treatment include catatonia, and severe mood disorders that are resistant to treatment. ECT has also been used as a last resort to manage obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease and, among others, Tourette’s syndrome.

In a controlled setting, ECT medication is delivered using electrical currents which pass through the brain of a patient, intentionally causing a seizure in the process. The seizure induces changes in brain function which in some cases tend to be effective in restoring the symptoms of mental illness. Researchers have yet to come to a satisfactory opinion on how those effects can be effectively minimized by the chemical changes evoked by ECT Therapy.

ECT sessions range between 20 and 30 minutes, and are usually given two or three times a week over a span of two to four weeks. Following two or three ECT treatments patients tend to see results.

Risks associated with ECT therapy dramatically declined by the time the technique was performed without a formal plan in effect. Still, however, there is the danger of side effects. Potential risks include:

  • Confusion ranges between a few minutes and several hours.
  • Lack of memory; appears to recover within a few months but may last longer
  • Physical side-effects on the days of ECT treatment. These include diarrhea, muscle spasms and vomiting.
  • Health problems caused by the use of anesthesia, a drug used for medical procedures during recovery. Common side effects include heightened heart rate and increased blood pressure.

Magnetic Transcranial Stimulation

TMS therapy is performed with the use of a lightly placed treatment coil against the scalp of patients sitting in a reclining chair. The coil emits magnetic fields which stimulate the activation of the nerve cells in a brain region involved in regulating mood.

TMS Patients are usually offered five weekly injections for a span of six weeks. During a TMS counseling session, which lasts about 40 minutes, patients stay fully awake.

Unlike diagnosis for ECT, TMS therapy does not require anesthesia or a potential period to heal from hospital. While scalp pain is the most common side effect, rare incidences of seizures during treatment with TMS have also been reported.

Previous studies report a 50 percent drop in symptoms of depression among patients who use TMS therapy. However, research suggests that major depression sufferers are less likely to experience regression after TMS therapy compared to medication and treatment with ECT.

TMS therapy has seen significant success in alleviating depressive symptoms among patients since its inception. However, due to the relatively new nature of the treatment, the Federal Drug Administration ( FDA) is currently restricting the use of TMS therapy to adults who have failed to achieve antidepressant drug results.


Support for TMS therapy is steadily gaining ground, partly due to the lack of associated side effects with the procedure. However, ECT remains a popular treatment due to its considerable success in alleviating symptoms associated with mental illness despite the potential risk of side effects.

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