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Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation For Depression

Abstract: Is rTMS a useful therapy for depressive disorders?

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Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation For Depression

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 30 Jul 2008.

Is rTMS a useful treatment for depression?


The use of a repetitive magnetic stimulation of specific brain areas (usually the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) might give an antidepressant effect for a specific group of patients with severe depressive disorders. However, this is still an experimental treatment approach. There are different standard procedures (different location, high frequency rTMS (20 HZ), low frequency (1 HZ).

Some psychiatrists achieve good results, similar to ECT treatments (Electro-convulsive therapy) without severe cognitive impairments or other severe side effects.

A recent meta-analysis of 14 trials published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (June 2003) gave the following conclusion to its readers : "Current trials are of low quality and provide insufficient evidence to support the use of rTMS in the treatment of depression“. Another new review of the evidence showed a transient benefit for some patients, but no maintanance of the antidepressant effect. Comparision to ECT indicated the superiority of ECT. The authors summarized that there is insufficient evidence for rTMS as a valid treatment for depression at present."

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