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Benefits and risks

Benefits and risks

When NICE looked at the evidence, it decided that transcranial magnetic stimulation for depression is safe enough and works well enough for use in the NHS. NICE looked at 7 studies involving over 6000 patients.

Generally, the studies showed that the treatment improved depression symptoms and quality of life. In some cases, it allowed patients to stop taking antidepressants.

The studies showed that the risks of the procedure were:

  • 1 partial seizure in 1 patient

  • 1 manic episode in 1 patient

  • problems sleeping in 1 patient

  • joint pain in 1 patient

  • minor pain, scalp discomfort and facial twitching in a small proportion of patients

  • drowsiness in 12 patients

  • reddening of the skin in 6 patients.

Specialists also advised NICE that their patients have experienced these side effects after the treatment: discomfort, unpleasant twitching, temporary confusion and problems with memory, and temporary hearing loss.

If you want to know more about the studies, see the guidance. Ask your health professional to explain anything you don't understand.

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