Treating depression and OCD with Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. (WHO 2018).
Depression is a debilitating condition that can have profound effects on the quality of a person’s life.
Approximately a third of those suffering from depression do not respond to pharmaceutical and/or psychological treatment.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, known as OCD, is a condition characterised by unwanted thoughts and repetitive impulses. Only about 60% of patients with OCD improve with medication and at least 75% will relapse in the months after stopping the drug.
What is Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)?
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive method of brain stimulation.
The basic principle of rTMS is to target short magnetic pulses over the scalp in specific
brain regions that regulate mood.
rTMS is a medically safe treatment that has been evidenced to significantly decrease
symptoms of depression and OCD.
What happens in an rTMS session?
During your first appointment, our rTMS specialist will carry out an intensive assessment to
determine if rTMS is a suitable treatment for you.
Our specialist will talk you through the entire treatment procedure, and answer any questions you
Following this, our rTMS specialist will formulate your personalised treatment plan. You will also be given a welcome pack, inclusive of information about rTMS treatment and an appointment’s tracker.
Your first rTMS session will last an hour. This is to allow for all initial paperwork to be completed,
and to also locate the ideal positioning for the treatment to take place on your head.
To begin the treatment, you will be seated in a comfortable chair and then given a cap to wear.
Measurements will then be taken for head and facial positioning, and your individual motor
threshold will be recorded before the treatment commences.
Typically, you will hear a noise and feel a tapping sensation on the head area during the session. To diminish the sound, you will be provided earplugs if you wish.
The entire rTMS session will last approximately 20-minutes, after which you will be able to
resume your day without any disruption.
Is rTMS a safe treatment?
rTMS has been the subject of significant research worldwide, with it being consistently reported to be an effective form of treatment.
In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States of America approved
rTMS to treat depression, which is now routinely used in the top hospitals internationally.
In 2015, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom
concluded that rTMS for depression treatment was “safe enough and works well enough for
use in the NHS.”
What are the benefits of rTMS?
- Research and clinical trials worldwide have reported it to be an effective treatment for depression and OCD
- rTMS is a non-invasive treatment, which requires no sedation
- It is an outpatient treatment and well-tolerated by the majority of people
- People experience minimal side effects
- Daily activities can be resumed immediately after each session (e.g driving)
What are the side effects of rTMS?
rTMS is generally well tolerated by most patients but can cause some minor short-term side
- Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
- Tingling, spasms or twitching of facial muscles
- Discomfort from noise during treatment
- Other rare side effects include seizures (2 per 1,000 cases)
When compared to anti-depressant medication and ECT, rTMS is proven to have far fewer
Why choose rTMS treatment at Nightingale Hospital?
In 2014, Nightingale (in partnership with MagnaCentre) was the first private hospital in the UK to pioneer rTMS treatment. Since then, we have been the most experienced provider of rTMS treatment in the UK, delivered by our expert and internationally experienced practitioner team.
Not only were we the first private hospital in the UK to deliver rTMS treatment, but we were also the first private hospital in the UK to offer rTMS using a BrainsWay H-coil.
rTMS is typically delivered using a figure-8 shaped coil. The standard figure-8 coil uses a highly focused magnetic field. This type of coil has limitations when it comes to accurately target the specific sections of the brain which are impacted in depression and OCD. By contrast, H-coils supply a wider field and are designed to stimulate the key brain regions more consistently. H-coils also induce an effective field at a depth of approximately 3cm below the skull, compared to less than 1.5cm for the standard figure-8 coil.
It has been suggested that the deeper and wider penetration provided by H-coils accounts for the superior response rate and greater reduction of depression severity reported in the first head-to-head trial between the H-Coil and figure-8 coil published in 2019.
When is rTMS not suitable?
- If you have a co-morbid neurological disorder, history of epilepsy and/or neurosurgery
- If you have metal plates in the head/brain, presence of pacemakers or other electronic
implants, inner-ear implants, metal or magnetic objects in the brain and medication
pumps. (Standard amalgam dental fillings do not pose an issue)
- If you are below 18-years-of-age
How much does rTMS treatment cost at Nightingale Hospital?
rTMS treatment starts from £185 per session*.
Most private medical insurers review applications to fund rTMS treatment on a case-by-case
basis. Please contact your insurance provider to assess your eligibility. The hospital requires
an insurers authorisation before treatment can commence.
*Prices for treatment vary based on the mental health condition.
For detailed billing information, please contact:
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7535 7803
How do I get rTMS treatment at Nightingale Hospital?
Consultant psychiatrists, GPs and health professionals can all refer patients for rTMS at
All patients will need to be under the care of a Nightingale psychiatrist for the duration of
The referring psychiatrist or GP will receive regular updates on a patient’s progress including
HDRS scores upon the commencement of treatment and at discharge.
What patients are saying about rTMS at Nightingale Hospital
- All first-class, from the moment I arrived each day.
- This is a really positive option for that suffering depression.
- The process was extremely fast, efficient, friendly and reassuring.
- Excellent care and help.
- I was very happy about the service in every aspect.
- Staff service I can’t recommend enough. Treatment (from a very sceptical chap!) has been
amazing. Feel as though depression never happened! Hope more people use it.
- Felt like a new man after my course of treatment. Wife and family all amazed at the change in