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Am J Psychiatry. 2007 Jan;164(1):73-81.

A randomized, controlled trial with 6-month follow-up of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy for severe depression.

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Section of Old Age Psychiatry, Department of Biostatistics and Computing, Center for the Economics of Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and Department of Psychiatry, Pembury Hospital, Invicta Community Care NHS Trust, Kent, UK.



Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been reported to be as effective as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for major depression. The authors conducted a multicenter randomized, controlled trial to test the equivalence of rTMS with ECT.


Forty-six patients with major depression referred for ECT were randomly assigned to either a 15-day course of rTMS of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (N=24) or a standard course of ECT (N=22). The primary outcome measures were the score on the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) and the proportion of patients with remissions (Hamilton score, <or=8) at the end of treatment. Secondary outcomes included mood self-ratings on the Beck Depression Inventory-II and visual analogue mood scales, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) score, and both self-reported and observer-rated cognitive changes. The patients were followed up after 6 months.


HAM-D scores at the end of treatment were significantly lower for ECT, with 13 patients (59.1%) achieving remission in the ECT group and four (16.7%) in the rTMS group. However, at 6 months the HAM-D scores did not differ between groups. Beck scale, visual analogue mood scale, and BPRS scores were lower for ECT at the end of treatment and remained lower after 6 months. Self- and observer-rated cognitive measures were similar in the two groups.


rTMS was not as effective as ECT, and ECT was substantially more effective for the short-term treatment of depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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