Recent Posts

Recent Comments



CW: Detailed discussion of medical treatments, medication, and depression.

When I was 12, I started feeling depressed. Because it is a deeply chemical issue, it has never been meaningfully resolved. In short, my psychiatrist was sick of seeing me. After trying 8 medications with no positive effects, I finally found one that helped. It completely eliminated my anxiety. Still, I found myself depressed in a way that impeded my life. I couldn’t get through my 9-5 job without a midday nap. In the evenings, all I could muster was to fall asleep watching Hulu on my laptop. I knew that I needed more support, but I had exhausted all possible medications. 

When I talked to my psychiatrist, she offered me two options: Ketamine (Spravato) therapy or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). I couldn’t take the time off work to pursue Ketamine therapy, but I was so scared of TMS. 

The internet is filled with terrible stories about TMS. You can find Facebook pages, Reddit forums, and even hate websites dedicated to the treatment. However, clinical data suggests that TMS works for people with treatment-resistant depression. In fact, 50-60% of individuals who undergo TMS experience some kind of positive improvement. I am one of them.

When your brain doesn’t regularly create certain neurotransmitters, its ability to produce them atrophies. TMS works by rapidly applying magnetic waves to your brain cells, helping release serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Over the course of 36 sessions, it rewires your brain to regularly make these neurotransmitters again by repaving your neural pathways. 

Armed with both sides of the debate on TMS, I was nervous about my first appointment. The treatment room was a sickly shade of nurse green. Sagging black-and-white checkered tiles tenuously spanned the wall. In the middle of the room, a dentist-like chair sat next to a large machine with a touchscreen and tubing.

My technician, an incredibly kind woman who was about my age, placed a white nylon cap on my head. Using a special marking tool, she outlined the areas where the machine would stimulate my brain. Joyfully, she said I could keep the cap when I finished all 36 treatments.

She asked me to hold out my hand before she placed the machine’s arm against my cap. As she turned on the machine, I felt a light shock. She upped the wattage until my finger began to involuntarily twitch. Once she reached this point, called the “motor threshold,” she wrote down a number and let the machine run.

The first part of my daily treatment applies waves to the left side of my head. Every ten seconds, three sharp shocks melt through the metal machine. They don’t hurt, per se, but they cause a biting tension in my sinuses. Next, the clinician moves the machine to the right side of my head. Here, it produces a steady tapping. It is not uncomfortable, like a ballad with heavy bass being played against my mind. Others describe it as a woodpecker tapping your head. Regardless, I find it calming, and eventually, I’m able to fall asleep once or twice during treatment.

After a few sessions, I became completely accustomed to the TMS routine. It no longer feels uncomfortable or strange. Rather, my TMS sessions are now a relaxing end cap to my day. After work, I get to relax in a comfortable chair and listen to a nice podcast before going home: dedicated self-care time, daily.

More importantly, it’s working for my mental health. TMS is not a “cure,” but it gives me energy, improves my focus, and helps me sleep. If you’re considering TMS, know that it’s a personal decision that should be made with your healthcare team. But for me, it’s been a valuable, electrifying part of my path toward feeling better. 

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call, text, or chat with the Lifeline at 988 or


There are no comments.