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Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Apr 15;51(8):687-90.

Three and six-month outcome following courses of either ECT or rTMS in a population of severely depressed individuals--preliminary report.

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  • 1Psychiatry Division, ECT-TMS Unit, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, 52621 Tel Hashomer, Israel.



Recent studies have strengthened the claim that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is an effective treatment for major depression. The longitudinal outcome of TMS-treated patients, however, has not been described. We report on the 3- and 6-month outcomes of a group of patients treated with either electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) (n = 20) or (rTMS) (n = 21).


Patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder with or without psychotic features referred for ECT were randomly assigned to receive either ECT or rTMS. Forty-one patients who responded to either treatment constituted the sample. Patients were followed on a monthly basis and outcomes were determined with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression-17 items (HRSD) and the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scales. Medications were routinely prescribed.


There were no differences in the 6-month relapse rate between the groups. Overall, 20% of the patients relapsed (four from the ECT group and four from the rTMS group). Patients reported equally low and not significantly different scores in the HRSD (ECT group 8.4 +/- 5.6 and TMS group 7.9 +/- 7.1) and the GAF (ECT group 72.8 +/- 12 and TMS group 77.8 +/- 17.1) at the 6-month follow up.


Patients treated with rTMS do as well as those treated with ECT at the 3- and 6-month follow-up points. These data suggest that the clinical gains obtained with rTMS last at least as long as those obtained with ECT.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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