The Cairns Clinic
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Repetitive Transcranial
Magnetic Stimulation


Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

The Cairns Clinic has introduced Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS).

rTMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. Depression is a treatable condition, but for some people, standard treatments such as medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy) aren’t effective. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is typically used for patients who do not satisfactorily respond to standard treatments. It is performed while the patient is awake and fully conscious. Sedation or anaesthetic is not required as patients feel minimal discomfort.

rTMS involves stimulation of an area of your brain using a pulsing magnet placed on the patient’s scalp. The magnet is designed to give a focused beam of magnetic energy inducing small electrical currents with the aim of altering brain function for therapeutic purposes.

The magnetic field produces only tiny electrical currents which then go on to activate cells within the brain, which (as believed) release neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain), which do play an important role/function in mood regulation.

Since depression is believed to be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters/chemicals in the brain, rTMS treatment helps restore the balance of these chemicals in the brain and goes on to relieve the symptoms of depression.

A Psychiatrist prescribes the treatment, which is usually administered in 15-45 minute sessions daily, or twice daily, for an initial course of 20 treatments. It may take a number of treatments for the patient to feel positive effects. As depression can relapse, most patients are recommended for follow up treatment plans.

The aim of rTMS treatment is to lift a patient’s mood. With an improvement in mood there is often an associated improvement in sleep, appetite, energy and concentration and a decrease in negative thoughts. Unlike other treatments, rTMS does not require anesthesia or sedation.

It may take up to two weeks after the rTMS treatment is completed before symptom improvement occurs although most patients report an improvement within the course of the treatments.

The nature of this treatment, including the risks and benefits that you may experience will be fully explained by the treating psychiatrist.

rTMS may be an appropriate treatment option for adult patients with treatment resistant depression, who have failed to achieve a satisfactory response from prior antidepressant medications. rTMS may also be useful in treating patients unable or unwilling to take medication, including patients with adverse reactions to medications, or those with renal or liver impairment.

rTMS is considered a safe treatment for most patients, and can be used alone or adjunct to medication. Due to its magnetic action, it is not recommended for people with metal implants in their head or neck region (e.g. cochlear implants, aneurysm clips or coils, shrapnel, metal plates), or those with pacemakers or implantable defibrillators.

Whether rTMS or an alternative treatment is most appropriate for you is based upon a thorough physical and psychiatric evaluation and depends on your prior experience with these treatments, the nature of your mental health condition and your response to medication.

Once a GP or psychiatrist sends a patient referral to The Cairns Clinic, the Intake Coordinator will organise an appointment for the patient and liaise with them regarding admission when an appropriate bed/program start dates are available.

The Cairns Clinic understands that patients can be eager to start programs, so the team work hard to make this process as quick and smooth as possible.

rTMS Information Brochure

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The Cairns Clinic
253 Sheridan Street