Will TMS Change My Personality?

When it comes to cutting-edge medical treatments like TMS, our understanding is constantly growing. For patients, the idea of applying a treatment to your brain can be a little unnerving despite the amazing benefits you have heard others are experiencing. If you’ve been considering transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), you may be wondering if TMS will change your personality. In short, the answer is no. TMS doesn’t set out to change individual characteristics. So then, why do people talk about changes like this? It boils down to the nature of personality and what TMS is actually treating.

The Nature Of Personality

Personality isn’t just one thing about a person. It’s your individual differences in thinking, feeling, and behaving. It involves your thoughts, beliefs, disposition or temperament, preferences, behaviors, and traits. Because it’s so complex and multi-faceted, it is not as easy to change or influence it as you might think. Your personality is relatively stable, but it can change subtly over time in response to your experiences and environment.

TMS Targets Brain Regions, Not Personality

While people who have severe brain trauma from an accident, stroke, brain tumor, or radiation treatments can experience pronounced changes in their personalities, most medical interventions cannot change traits, intentionally or accidentally.

TMS targets specific brain regions responsible for regulating your emotions and mood. Pulses stimulate brain cells to heal and grow, causing a decrease in unwanted symptoms and an increase in positive feelings.

Treatment aims to alleviate symptoms instead of altering your core traits. Because TMS provides symptom relief, it may influence patients’ behavior and outlook on life. Once the symptoms of depression stop shaping your behavior, you start behaving more like your true self. Your personality is the same, but without the fog of depression, anxiety, or PTSD, it is now able to shine through more clearly.

Focusing On Symptom Relief

Prominent symptoms of depression can make you behave in specific ways and relief of those symptoms can lead to significant changes in behavior. Here are two examples:

1. Persistent Sadness

If you’re experiencing prolonged sadness, you may withdraw from social activities or interactions. If you do this for long enough, you can seem introverted. It can look like a personality change when you start to emerge and socialize again.

2. Anxiety

When you’re anxious, you can be restless and irritable. You may be on edge and easily agitated, making others think you’re just grumpy or a hothead. When you experience relief from the symptoms, it seems like a personality shift when you’re more level and calm to be around.

TMS therapy addresses the symptoms of various mental health disorders. As your symptoms alleviate, you experience improvements in your overall well-being, functioning, outlook, and, often, behavior. While the core aspects of your personality that define your identity are not the target, some of these pronounced behavior changes can make people think the treatment has changed them.

Patient Experiences Do Vary

Another reason you may hear mixed reviews is that patient reports after treatment do vary. Just like everyone handles and experiences treatment differently, everyone interprets their response to treatment differently. Some may attribute their symptom relief to TMS, believing it has allowed their true personality to shine through. Others may assign the change to their hard work and personal growth rather than TMS treatment.

Discuss Your Questions And Concerns With Your TMS Provider

No matter what, you should always thoroughly discuss everything with TMS experts before starting treatment. Like any other healthcare provider, engaging in open and transparent communication is essential. Bring up any questions or concerns about potential changes in personality. This will help set realistic expectations and ensure their treatment plan aligns with your individual goals.

Bring a list of prepared questions so you don’t get overwhelmed and forget to ask something. Here are some to help get you started:

  1. What can I expect from TMS treatment?
  2. What are the side effects of TMS in terms of changes in mood or personality?
  3. Have you had any cases where TMS caused pronounced shifts in personality traits?
  4. How will you track my progress through treatment for any noticeable changes in my behavior or mood?

Overall, You Won’t See Personality Changes, Only Mood Stabilization

TMS is a valuable method for providing relief from debilitating symptoms. In the realm of mental health treatment, TMS stands out as one of the very few options that is:

  • Non-Systemic: Unlike antidepressants, which circulate through your whole body, TMS only works on your brain and doesn’t have unwanted side effects on the rest of your body.
  • Non-Invasive: Other brain treatments are invasive, requiring surgery to implant a stimulation device or anesthesia to have electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). As treatments become more invasive, their lists of risks grow too. Medical professionals aim for the treatment with the best chance of working with the least risk possible.
  • Effective: While standard TMS is effective, especially in treating medication-resistant depression, newer TMS treatment protocols boast up to 90% response rates after just five days of TMS. Ask your provider about accelerated TMS for depression.

The primary focus of TMS is to address brain activity related to specific conditions rather than fundamentally altering your personality. The goal is mood stabilization so you can feel like yourself again. However, the positive effects on your mood can influence your behavior.

As with any health intervention, maintain open communication and a collaborative approach with your TMS specialists. Active participation in treatment planning can help you navigate the process, make informed decisions, and feel happier with the outcome.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) does not aim to change individual characteristics or personality. People may talk about changes because of the nature of personality and what TMS is actually treating. Check out the infographic to learn more.

6 TMS and Personality Facts Infographic