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Nervenarzt. 2012 Aug;83(8):1006-12. doi: 10.1007/s00115-012-3573-y.

[Transcranial and invasive brain stimulation for depression].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Abteilung für allgemeine Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie mit Poliklinik, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Calwerstr. 14, 72076 Tübingen, Deutschland.


Considering the substantial proportion of depressed patients which does not sufficiently benefit from antidepressant pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy, there is increasing interest in non-pharmacological antidepressant strategies. Thus, a whole array of stimulation approaches has been developed as potential new antidepressant interventions. These methods include transcranial convulsive and non-convulsive approaches, e.g. electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), magnetic seizure therapy (MST), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as well as invasive techniques, e.g. deep brain stimulation (DBS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and epidural cortical stimulation (ECS). Each method represents a specific therapeutic approach with distinct targets within neural networks involved in the pathophysiology of depression. The ECT procedure is an established treatment with the highest efficacy of all antidepressant interventions and TMS reaches the highest level of evidence among the novel neurostimulation approaches and may be clinically used. However, the field yields a promising rapid development which may substantially enrich the armamentarium of antidepressant interventions in the near future.

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