Comparison between neurostimulation techniques repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation vs electroconvulsive therapy for the treatment of resistant depression: patient preference and cost-effectiveness. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2016;10:1481-1487.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common disorder, widely distributed in the population, and is often associated with severe symptoms and functional impairment. It has been estimated that 30% of MDD patients do not benefit adequately from therapeutic interventions, including pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is generally defined as a failure to achieve remission, despite therapeutic interventions.

Efficacy and Safety of Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Major Depression: A prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a prevalent and disabling condition, and many patients do not respond to available treatments. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) is a new technology allowing non-surgical stimulation of relatively deep brain areas. This is the first double-blind randomized controlled multicenter study evaluating the efficacy and safety of dTMS in MDD. We recruited 212 MDD outpatients, aged 22–68 years, who had either failed one to four antidepressant trials or not tolerated at least two antidepressant treatments during the current episode. They were randomly assigned to monotherapy with active or sham dTMS. Twenty sessions of dTMS (18 Hz over the prefrontal cortex) were applied during 4 weeks acutely, and then biweekly for 12 weeks. Primary and secondary efficacy endpoints were the change in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-21) score and response/remission rates at week 5, respectively. dTMS induced a 6.39 point improvement in HDRS-21 scores, while a 3.28 point improvement was observed in the sham group, resulting in a 0.76 effect size. Response and remission rates were higher in the dTMS than in the sham group (response: 38.4 vs. 21.4%; remission: 32.6 vs. 14.6%). These differences between active and sham treatment were stable during the 12-week maintenance phase. dTMS was associated with few and minor side effects apart from one seizure in a patient where a protocol violation occurred. These results suggest that dTMS constitutes a novel intervention in MDD, which is efficacious and safe in patients not responding to antidepressant medications, and whose effect remains stable over 3 months of maintenance treatment.

A multisite, naturalistic, observational study of transcranial magnetic stimulation for patients with pharmacoresistant major depressive disorder: durability of benefit over a 1-year follow-up period

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an effective and safe acute treatment for patients not benefiting from antidepressant pharmacotherapy. Few studies have examined its longer term durability. This study assessed the long-term effectiveness of TMS in naturalistic clinical practice settings following acute treatment. Adult patients with a primary diagnosis of unipolar, nonpsychotic major depressive disorder (DSM-IV clinical criteria), who did not benefit from antidepressant medication, received TMS treatment in 42 clinical practices. Two hundred fifty-seven patients completed a course of acute TMS treatment and consented to follow-up over 52 weeks. Assessments were obtained at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. The study was conducted between March 2010 and August 2012. Compared with pre-TMS baseline, there was a statistically significant reduction in mean total scores on the Clinical Global Impressions-Severity of Illness scale (primary outcome), 9-Item Patient Health Questionnaire, and Inventory of Depressive Symptoms-Self Report (IDS-SR) at the end of acute treatment (all P < .0001), which was sustained throughout follow-up (all P < .0001). The proportion of patients who achieved remission at the conclusion of acute treatment remained similar at conclusion of the long-term follow-up. Among 120 patients who met IDS-SR response or remission criteria at the end of acute treatment, 75 (62.5%) continued to meet response criteria throughout long-term follow-up. After the first month, when the majority of acute TMS tapering was completed, 93 patients (36.2%) received reintroduction of TMS. In this group, the mean (SD) number of TMS treatment days was 16.2. TMS demonstrates a statistically and clinically meaningful durability of acute benefit over 12 months of follow-up. This was observed under a pragmatic regimen of continuation antidepressant medication and access to TMS retreatment for symptom recurrence.

Improvement in quality of life with left prefrontal transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with pharmacoresistant major depression: acute and six month outcomes. Brain Stimul. 2014 Mar-Apr; 7(2):219-25.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe and effective treatment for major depression. We describe quality of life (QOL) outcomes from acute treatment with TMS, and describe the durability of benefit across 24-weeks.

George, M.S. (2010) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for the Treatment of Depression. Expert Rev. Neurother. 10(11), 1761–1772

Repeated daily left prefrontal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was first proposed as a potential treatment for depression in 1993. Multiple studies from researchers around the world since then have repeatedly demonstrated that TMS has antidepressant effects greater than sham treatment, and that these effects are clinically meaningful. A large industry-sponsored trial, published in 2007, resulted in US FDA approval in October 2008. Most recently, a large NIH-sponsored trial, with a more rigorous sham technique, found that a course of treatment (3–5 weeks) was statistically and clinically significant in reducing depression. However, consistently showing statistically and clinically significant antidepressant effects, and gaining regulatory approval, is merely the beginning for this new treatment. As with any new treatment involving a radically different approach, there are many unanswered questions about TMS, and the field is still rapidly evolving. These unanswered questions include the appropriate scalp location, understanding the mechanisms of action, refining the ‘dose’ (frequency, train, number of stimuli/day and pattern of delivery), understanding whether and how TMS can be combined with medications or talking/exposure therapy, or both, and how to deliver maintenance TMS. This article summarizes the available clinical information, and discusses key areas where more research is needed. TMS reflects a paradigm shift in treating depression. It is a safe, relatively noninvasive, focal brain stimulation treatment that does not involve seizures or implanted wires, and does not have drug–drug interactions or systemic side effects.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation For Depressive Disorders By Paul B. Fitzgerald and Z. Jeff Daskalakis -Springer 2013 (ISBN-13: 978-3642364662)

​Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment is increasingly being used in the management of patients with depression. Nevertheless, considerable ignorance still exists about the treatment in general psychiatric practice. This concise clinical guide will serve as a reference and practical tool for clinicians working with or learning about this treatment technique. The opening chapters provide basic information on the history and development of rTMS treatment and its mechanism of action. Use of the treatment in depression is then addressed in detail, with explanation of the evidence base and discussion of a variety of clinical issues. Side-effects of treatment are explored, and careful consideration is given to the establishment of rTMS treatment programs and the training of clinicians. The final chapters will provide a brief overview of potential rTMS applications in other psychiatric conditions and some background on related treatments.

The relationship between brain oscillatory activity and therapeutic effectiveness of transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. February 2013 Volume 7 Article 37

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is marked by disturbances in brain functional connectivity. This connectivity is modulated by rhythmic oscillations of brain electrical activity, which enable coordinated functions across brain regions. Oscillatory activity plays a central role in regulating thinking and memory, mood, cerebral blood flow, and neurotransmitter levels, and restoration of normal oscillatory patterns is associated with effective treatment of MDD. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a robust treatment for MDD, but the mechanism of action (MOA) of its benefits for mood disorders remains incompletely understood. Benefits of rTMS have been tied to enhanced neuroplasticity in specific brain pathways. We summarize here the evidence that rTMS entrains and resets thalamocortical oscillators, normalizes regulation and facilitates reemergence of intrinsic cerebral rhythms, and through this mechanism restores normal brain function. This entrainment and resetting may be a critical step in engendering neuroplastic changes and the antidepressant effects of rTMS. It may be possible to modify the method of rTMS administration to enhance this MOA and achieve better antidepressant effectiveness. We propose that rTMS can be administered: (1) synchronized to a patient’s individual alpha frequency (IAF), or synchronized rTMS (sTMS); (2) as a low magnetic field strength sinusoidal waveform; and, (3) broadly to multiple brain areas simultaneously. We present here the theory and evidence indicating that these modifications could enhance the therapeutic effectiveness of rTMS for the treatment of MDD.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Major Depression: A Multisite, Naturalistic, Observational Study of Acute Treatment Outcomes in Clinical Practice

Few studies have examined the effectiveness of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in real-world clinical practice settings. Forty-two US-based clinical TMS practice sites treated 307 outpatients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and persistent symptoms despite antidepressant pharmacotherapy. Treatment was based on the labeled procedures of the approved TMS device. Assessments were performed at baseline, week 2, at the point of maximal acute benefit, and at week 6 when the acute course extended beyond 6 weeks. The primary outcome was change in the Clinician Global Impressions-Severity of Illness from baseline to end of acute phase. Secondary outcomes were change in continuous and categorical outcomes on self-report depression scales (9-Item Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ-9], and Inventory of Depressive Symptoms-Self Report [IDS-SR]). Patients had a mean ± SD age of 48.6 ± 14.2 years and 66.8% were female. Patients received an average of 2.5 (± 2.4) antidepressant treatments of adequate dose and duration without satisfactory improvement in this episode. There was a significant change in CGI-S from baseline to end of treatment (-1.9 ± 1.4, P < .0001). Clinician-assessed response rate (CGI-S) was 58.0% and remission rate was 37.1%. Patient-reported response rate ranged from 56.4 to 41.5% and remission rate ranged from 28.7 to 26.5%, (PHQ-9 and IDS-SR, respectively). Outcomes demonstrated response and adherence rates similar to research populations. These data indicate that TMS is an effective treatment for those unable to benefit from initial antidepressant medication.