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Nord J Psychiatry. 2003;57(3):227-32.

Efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in depression: a review of the evidence.

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  • 1Nordfjord Psychiatric Centre, N-6770 Nordfjordeid, Norway. trond.aarre@helse-forde.no


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a novel treatment in psychiatry. We reviewed all published evidence on the efficacy of this treatment option in depressive disorders. An extensive electronic and manual search for eligible research reports identified only 12 studies that met the predetermined criteria for inclusion. rTMS was administered differently in most studies, and patient characteristics varied widely. A formal meta-analysis of the studies was thus not possible. Instead, we conducted a qualitative evaluation of the included studies. The antidepressive efficacy was not consistent, and where efficacy was demonstrated, it was modest in most studies. Some patients had good but transient responses to rTMS. Treatment gains were not maintained beyond the treatment period. Comparisons with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) indicated the superiority of ECT. More, larger and more carefully designed studies are needed to demonstrate convincingly a clinically relevant effect of rTMS. We conclude that there is insufficient evidence for rTMS as a valid treatment for depression at present.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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