Repetitive TMS Shows Promise for Treating Depression in BPD

May 7, 2018

NEW YORK CITY—Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may help improve refractory depression in patients with borderline personality disorder, according to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.

“Borderline personality disorder patients have a high lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder,” wrote poster presenter Hyewon Helen Lee, MD, in an abstract presented May 7. “However, it has been previously found that there are poorer outcomes of electroconvulsive therapy and antidepressants among this population.”

Study Supports Efficacy and Safety of Shorter TMS Treatments

The study randomized 20 patients with borderline personality disorder experiencing a major depressive episode to 15 days of twice-daily 20-Hz rTMS treatment of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, followed by 15 days of sham rTMS therapy, or vice versa, in a crossover design.

Over time, rTMS treatment demonstrated a statistically significant effect on scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), Dr. Lee reported. The treatment was well tolerated.

“Our findings support dorsomedial prefrontal cortex rTMS as a potential treatment for major depressive disorder in patients with borderline personality disorder,” she wrote. “Further replication with larger sample size and adequate washout period is warranted.”

—Jolynn Tumolo


“Efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of refractory depression among patients with borderline personality disorder.” Abstract presented at: the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 7, 2018; New York, NY.