What is dTMS (Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)?

What is dTMS (Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)?

dTMS is the least invasive of the brain-stimulation procedures used for depression. Magnetic brain stimulation is an up-and-coming technology and people seek to apply it to new diseases nearly as fast as they can be diagnosed. Deep Transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) may be used when standard treatments such as medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy) don’t work.

dTMS has be used for treatment of:

  • Mood disorders such as depression
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)

And, other applications listed below, are in the research stages:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Autism
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Addiction
  • Obesity
  • Epilepsy

How it Works

dTMS works by sending pulses of magnetic energy across the skull. These magnetic fields induce electric currents to flow in small patches of the brain of around one square centimetre, which in turn causes the neurons in that area to activate – these events take place over fractions of a second.

Note: There are two kinds of dTMS, and the differences will be discussed in a future article.

Common Side Effects

dTMS often causes minor short-term side effects. These side effects are generally mild and typically improve after the first week or two of treatment. They can include:

  • Headache
  • Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
  • Tingling, spasms or twitching of facial muscles
  • Lightheadedness
  • Discomfort from noise during treatment


Before treatment begins, your doctor will need to identify the best place to put the magnets on your head and the best dose of magnetic energy for you.

What to Expect:

  • You’ll be taken to a treatment room. You’ll be asked to sit in a reclining chair, and you’ll be given earplugs to wear during the procedure.
  • An electromagnetic coil will be placed against your head.The electromagnetic coil is switched off and on repeatedly to produce stimulating pulses. This results in a tapping or clicking sound that usually lasts for a few seconds, followed by a pause. You’ll also feel a tapping sensation on your forehead. This part of the process is called mapping.
  • The amount of magnetic energy needed will be determined. Your doctor will increase the magnetic dose until your fingers or hands twitch. Known as your motor threshold, this is used as a reference point in determining the right dose for you. During the course of treatment, the amount of stimulation can be changed depending on your symptoms and side effects.

Once the coil placement and dose are identified, you’re ready to begin.

Here’s what to expect during each treatment:

  • You’ll sit in a comfortable chair. The magnetic coil is placed against your head.
  • The machine will be turned on. You’ll hear clicking sounds and feel tapping on your forehead.
  • The procedure will last about 15 minutes. You’ll remain awake and alert. You may feel some scalp discomfort during the treatment and for a short time afterward. The entire appointment typically lasts about one to two hours. (Times vary per patient.)

After treatment, you can return to your normal daily activities. There are different ways to perform the procedure. Techniques may change as experts learn more about the most effective ways to perform treatments.


If dTMS works for you, your depression symptoms may improve or go away completely. Symptom relief takes place in just two weeks.

If you have any questions about this treatment option, please feel free to reach out to us at CPCH at 919-636-5240 and we will be happy to answer any questions for you.

Live Mentally Healthy,
Dr. Jennie Byrne

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