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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and MAOIs

Community Member
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.
39 Replies 39

Community Member

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

how can one go about inquiring about this trial?

do you think one can still sign up?

Community Member

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


Community Member

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.

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.


Is this treatment available in Adelaide?

Community Member

Hi Torquil,

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


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.

Community Member
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... 

Community Member

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.