Converging evidence points to hypofunction of the left prefrontal cortex in depression. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) activates neurons near the surface of the brain. We questioned whether daily left prefrontal rTMS might improve mood in depressed subjects and report a pilot study of such treatment in six highly medication-resistant depressed inpatients. Depression scores significantly improved for the group as a whole (Hamilton Depression Scores decreased from 23.8 +/- 4.2 (s.d.) at baseline to 17.5 +/- 8.4 after treatment; t = 3.03, 5DF, p = 0.02, two-tailed paired t-test). Two subjects showed robust mood improvement which occurred progressively over the course of several weeks. In one subject, depression symptoms completely remitted for the first time in 3 years. Daily left prefrontal rTMS appears to be safe, well tolerated and may alleviate depression.

Neuroreport 1995 Oct 2;6(14):1853-6
George MS, Wassermann EM, Williams WA, Callahan A, Ketter TA, Basser P, Hallett M, Post RM.
Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Charleston, SC, USA.