Key Differences Between rTMS and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) – Dr. Martijn Arns

Posted on: February 9, 2019
Last Updated: September 21, 2020

Dr Sanil Rege, Consultant Psychiatrist and Founder of Psych Scene and Psych Scene Hub speaks to Dr Martijn Arns, Chief Scientific Adviser, neuroCare Group; Founding Director & Senior Researcher at Research Institute Brainclinics.

Author Quote 

I think the positioning of rTMS at this point in time is a kind of stage before people consider ECT. I think that the side effect profile is very benign, and the only side effects that people might report are scalp discomfort, and headache, because we are stimulating the muscle tissue as well, so it’s really muscle tissue pain that people might experience. With repeated sessions of stimulation it disappears and goes away.

Take-home Messages 

  1. ECT is a very effective treatment in severe melancholic depression with agitative or psychotic features, severe suicidal ideation, catatonia or if a patient is not eating or drinking due to depression – side effects include memory issues and concentration problems.
  2. The theoretical risk of seizure with rTMS is significantly lower than the risk of a seizure with an SSRI – overall, the side effects associated with rTMS are very manageable
  3. Response and remission rates for rTMS with personalised psychotherapy as a combined treatment in treatment-resistant depression are higher than for rTMS as a monotherapy.


Learn more

  1. New Developments in Neuromodulation & Stimulation in Psychiatry – Dr. Martjin Arns
  2. Neurofeedback and The Role of Sleep in Psychiatric Disorders – Dr. Martjin Arns
  3. Number of Sessions & Pulses Required for Optimal Results of rTMS – Dr. Martjin Arns
  4. The Potential Side Effects of rTMS – Dr.Martjin Arns
  5. Localising The Exact Point of Maximum Stimulation For rTMS – Dr. Martjin Arns
  6. The Principle Behind Choosing The Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex for rTMS – Dr. Martjin Arns
  7. Key Differences Between High Frequency & Low Frequency rTMS Protocols – Dr. Martjin Arns
  8. Typical Response & Remission Rates of rTMS in Treatment Resistant Cases – Dr. Martijn Arns
  9. Clinical Indications for Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) – Dr. Martijn Arns
  10. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) in Depression – Conversations with Dr. Martijn Arns, Neuromodulation Expert
  11. What are the Reasons for the Rise in Interest in Neuromodulation? – Conversations with Dr. Martijn Arns, Neuromodulation Expert
  12. How Did You Get Interested in the Field of Neuromodulation? – Conversations with Dr. Martijn Arns, Neuromodulation Expert