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RTMS involves a number of treatment sessions which usually lasts for about 30 to 40 minutes. During the procedure, no general anaesthesia or sedation is required; moreover, no hospitalization is required. Individuals are fully awake and aware during the session, and can resume their usual activities after the session. rTMS involves very few side-effects generally, the most common one being headaches. These are mild and subside over the treatment course, or can be treated with medications for pain. Facial twitching or painful scalp sensations can be experienced in some patients, but these too diminish over the treatment course. Other side effects can include feelings of lightheadedness, or temporary hearing issues due to the loud magnet noise made by the device. Seizures are the most severe of the potential side effects, but the risks of experiencing it is quite low. Moreover, medical examinations to screen out those who may be at risk of experiencing any negative consequences are done to ensure safety.

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Is RTMS safe for everyone with depression?

Although rTMS is considered relatively safe with mild to moderate side effects that are temporary, it is only used when other treatments for depression aren’t showing effect. There are some people who shouldn’t get rTMS such as those with facial tattoos with magnet-sensitize ink, bullet fragments or shrapnel near the head, metal implants in the eyes or ears, implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), stents in the brain or neck, aneurysm clips or coils, etc. Moreover, it is important to get physical and psychiatric evaluations done to ensure it is safe for you. 

How does it work?

Your doctor will place a special electromagnetic coil over a brain area on your head that regulates mood as you sit or recline. This coil will generate magnetic pulses, which will produce electrical current that will stimulate your brain in a way that helps reduce depressive symptoms.

How many numbers of sessions are required? 

Generally, an rTMS session can last for 30 to 60 minutes, and can be repeated multiple times a week. It can last for 4 to 6 weeks, but depending on the individual’s condition, sessions may be given for shorter or longer duration. 

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