TMS is well-tolerated and associated with few side-effects and only a small percentage of patients discontinue treatment because of these. The most common side-effect, which is reported in about half of patients treated with TMS, is headaches. These are mild and generally diminish over the course of the treatment. Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to treat these headaches.
About one third of patients may experience painful scalp sensations or facial twitching with TMS pulses. These too tend to diminish over the course of treatment although adjustments can be made immediately in coil positioning and stimulation settings to reduce discomfort.
The TMS machine produces a loud noise and because of this earplugs are given to the patient to use during the treatment. However, some patients may still complain of hearing problems immediately following treatment. No evidence suggests these effects are permanent if earplugs are worn during the treatment.
TMS has not been associated with many of the side-effects caused by antidepressant medications, such as gastrointestinal upset, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, or sedation.
The most serious risk of TMS is seizures. However, the risk of a seizure is exceedingly low. We follow up-to-date safety guidelines that are designed to minimize the risk of seizures. While TMS is a safe procedure, it is important to point out that because it is a new treatment, there may be unforeseeable risks that are not currently recognized.