Many severely depressed patients do not benefit from or tolerate existing treatments. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been reported to benefit depression. We compared rTMS to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in severely ill, depressed patients.
Twenty-five patients with a major depression (unipolar or bipolar) deemed clinically appropriate for ECT were randomly assigned to rTMS (10-20 treatments, 10 Hz, 110% motor threshold applied to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for a total of 10,000-20,000 stimulations) or a course of bitemporal ECT (4-12 treatments). The primary outcome measure was the 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), Young Mania Rating Scale (YMS), and Clinical Global Impression scale (CGI) were secondary measures. Minimal rescue medications were utilized.
Mean percent improvement on the baseline HDRS score did not significantly differ between the two treatments (i.e., 55% for the rTMS group vs. 64% for the ECT group [p = ns]). With response defined as a 50% reduction from baseline and a final score < or = 8 on the HDRS, there was also no significant difference between the two groups. We did not observe any differences between groups on the secondary measures.
A 2-4 week randomized, prospective trial comparing rTMS to ECT produced comparable therapeutic effects in severely depressed patients.
Biol Psychiatry 2002 Apr 15;51(8):659-67
Janicak PG, Dowd SM, Martis B, Alam D, Beedle D, Krasuski J, Strong MJ, Sharma R, Rosen C, Viana M.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1601 W Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.