A guide to TMS treatment for bipolar disorder

Written by: Dr Justin Stephenson
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

People often consider medication or therapy as the most appropriate and effective methods to treat bipolar disorder. However, an alternative option is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment. We speak to renowned clinical psychologist Dr Justin Stephenson, who explains more about the treatment.


What is TMS treatment for bipolar disorder?


Bipolar disorder, formerly referred to as manic depression, is characterised by alternating episodes of depression followed by episodes of mania.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) stands as an innovative therapeutic intervention which can alleviate the debilitating effects linked to the depressive phases of bipolar disorder. This non-invasive methodology employs magnetic pulses to modulate the areas of the brain which regulate mood, motivation, and social skills.


How does bipolar disorder impact daily life?


Bipolar is a condition which is frequently misunderstood. It can provoke significant mood swings that can impact every aspect of your daily life.


Symptoms of bipolar disorder vary between patients, however, the most common symptoms include the following:


  • Feeling sad, hopeless or irritable the majority of the time.
  • Lacking energy.
  • Difficulty with concentration and remembering things.
  • Experiencing feelings of emptiness and worthlessness.
  • Loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed.
  • Having delusions or hallucinations.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Suicidal thoughts.


The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, however, it is thought to be potentially triggered by stressful situations. An example of such a situation would be the breakdown of a relationship or a bereavement.


Although these changes can take place at any stage of life, research demonstrates that the majority of cases of bipolar disorder are diagnosed before the age of 30. The disorder affects men and women equally.


What are some conventional treatments used to treat bipolar disorder?


Conventional approaches used to treat bipolar disorder include the following:


  • Medication to stabilise mood and treat high/low episodes.
  • Psychological treatment, including education, self-monitoring and coping skills.
  • Self-help, such as exercise and relaxation.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


These can be very effective with the right group, but may not suit everyone. It can also take a long time to get the right balance of medication.


While these approaches can prove highly effective within specific groups, they may not be suitable for everyone. Additionally, achieving the right balance of medication can be difficult, and take a long time.


What are the advantages of using TMS treatment compared with conventional treatments for bipolar disorder?


Research has shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression in those living with bipolar.


Unfortunately, traditional methods of dealing with the symptoms of the depression caused by bipolar, such as medication or therapy are not always effective.


TMS is a safe and effective alternative to traditional treatments. It results in fewer side-effects than use of medication. Furthermore, TMS does not require anaesthetic, hospitalisation, or recovery time.





If you would like to book a consultation with Dr Stephenson, simply visit his Top Doctors profile today

By Dr Justin Stephenson

Dr Justin Stephenson is a renowned clinical psychologist based in London, with over a decade of experience. He is highly experienced in various therapeutic approaches. His areas of expertise include cognitive behavioural therapies, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing), PTSD, psychotherapy, anxiety and depression.

Dr Stephenson first qualified with a BA in Psychology in 2010, before going on to receive his MA in Clinical Psychology in 2013. In 2022, he achieved a DClinPrac in Clinical Psychology from the University of Exeter.

Dr Stephenson currently practises privately at one of London’s most prestigious clinical psychology clinics, Smart TMS London. He is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.

In addition to his areas of expertise mentioned above, Dr Stephenson also offers both psychometric and ADHD assessment services. He also holds a special interest in neurological disorders and pain management. 

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