How you prepare

Before having repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), you may need a:

  • Physical exam and possibly lab tests or other tests to make sure rTMS is a safe and good option for you
  • Psychiatric evaluation to discuss your depression

Tell your doctor or mental health provider if:

  • You're pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
  • You have any metal or implanted medical devices in your body. In some cases, people with metal implants or devices can have rTMS. However, due to the strong magnetic field produced during rTMS, the procedure is not recommended for some people who have the following devices:
    • Aneurysm clips or coils
    • Stents
    • Implanted stimulators
    • Implanted vagus nerve or deep brain stimulators
    • Implanted electrical devices, such as pacemakers or medication pumps
    • Electrodes for monitoring brain activity
    • Cochlear implants for hearing
    • Any magnetic implants
    • Bullet fragments
    • Any other metal device or object implanted in your body
  • You're taking any medications, including prescription or over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, vitamins or other supplements, and the doses.
  • You have a history of seizures or a family history of epilepsy.
  • You have other mental health disorders, such as substance misuse, bipolar disorder or psychosis.
  • You have brain damage from illness or injury, such as a brain tumor, a stroke or a traumatic brain injury.
  • You have frequent or severe headaches.
  • You have any other medical conditions.

Before your first appointment

Repetitive TMS isn't invasive, doesn't require anesthesia and can be performed in a doctor's office. You don't need to arrange for someone to drive you home after treatment — unless, for the first treatment, you prefer a driver until you get a sense of how you'll feel afterward.

Before considering treatment, check with your health insurance company to see whether rTMS is covered. Your policy may not cover it.