APA News: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Shows Long-Term Benefit in Treating Depression

SAN FRANCISCO—Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was shown to benefit patients with major depression for up to a year after the treatment’s administration. 

Lead author Mark Andrew Demitrack, MD, and coauthors reported the findings in a poster at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting last week. Demitrack is chief medical officer at Neuronetics, a medical device company in Malvern, Pennsylvania, that markets the NeuroStar TMS System. 

For the study, researchers identified 307 patients diagnosed with unipolar, nonpsychotic major depressive disorder at 43 clinical practice sites. All received acute TMS after antidepressants alone failed to benefit them. 

Of the original 307, some 264 patients benefitted from acute TMS treatment, and the researchers followed a total of 204 of them during the next year to test the treatment’s long-term effectiveness. Clinical assessments using the Clinical Global Impression-Severity scale (CGI-S), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Inventory for Depressive Symptomatology (Self-Report) (IDS-SR) were obtained at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. 

Researchers found that statistically significant drops in CGI-S, PHQ-9, and IDS-SR scores that followed acute TMS treatment held through the entire 52-week follow-up period. 

Additionally, the percentage of patients who experienced a remission of symptoms after acute TMS (anywhere from 27% to 37%, depending on the assessment tool used) was similar to the percentage of patients experiencing remission at the year’s end (26% to 40%).   

“These data support the view that TMS demonstrates a statistically and clinically meaningful durability of acute response over 52 weeks of follow up,” researchers concluded.

Researchers noted that long-term TMS benefits were maintained in conjunction with “a pragmatic regimen of continuation antidepressant medication” and, in some cases, additional TMS treatment for symptom recurrence. 

David L. Dunner, MD, Center for Anxiety and Depression, Mercer Island, WA; Linda L. Carpenter, MD, Brown University School of Medicine, Providence, RI; Philip G. Janicak, MD, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; and Dafna Bonneh-Barkay, PhD, and David G. Brock, MD, both of Neuronetics, were coauthors of the poster. 

—Jolynn Tumolo

Reference 

Demitrack M, Dunner D, Carpenter L, et al. A multisite, longitudinal, naturalistic observational study of transcranial magnetic stimulation for major depression in clinical practice. Poster presented at: 166th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association; May 18-22, 2013; San Francisco, CA. NR12-5.