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Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011 Jun;261(4):261-6. doi: 10.1007/s00406-010-0137-7. Epub 2010 Aug 25.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of depression: feasibility and results under naturalistic conditions: a retrospective analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg, Universitätsstraße 84, Regensburg, Germany.


An increasing number of controlled studies strongly support an antidepressant effect of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. However, these data come from highly selected study populations. Whether rTMS is a feasible therapeutic tool for the treatment of depression under naturalistic condition has not yet been addressed. Here, we report results from 232 depressive patients [aged 20-76 years, baseline Hamilton Depression Rating Score (HDRS-21) 24.0 ± 7.3] treated with rTMS add-on to continued psychopharmacological treatment in a naturalistic clinical setting. Two thousand stimuli of 20-Hz rTMS were applied daily over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with an intensity of 110% of motor threshold. Treatment duration was individually planned and varied between 10 and 20 sessions. In average, patients received 13 ± 6.1 rTMS sessions. In 90% of the cases, treatment was terminated regularly. No severe side effects were observed. Only four patients stopped rTMS treatment because of side effects. Ratings with the HDRS-21 before and after treatment were available in 130 patients. The average improvement of the HDRS-21 in this subsample was 9.0 ± 9.2 points. Fifty-three patients had an improvement of 50% or more. These results document that rTMS is feasible, safe and well tolerated under naturalistic conditions.

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