Modest adjunctive benefit with transcranial magnetic stimulation in medication-resistant depression

J Affect Disord. 2001 May;64(2-3):271-5. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00223-8.


Background: Controverted results have been obtained using high frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation (HF-rTMS) as an antidepressant treatment.

Methods: Forty patients suffering from drug-resistant major depression received ten sessions of HF-rTMS at 90% of the motor threshold on the left prefrontal cortex or sham stimulation, added to their pharmacological treatment, in a randomized double-blind design. In a second open phase, patients still fulfilling criteria of inclusion received ten additional sessions of HF-rTMS at 90 or 110%.

Results: Real, but not sham HF-rTMS, was associated with a significant decrease in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, but only twelve patients decreased more than 50%.

Conclusions: Left prefrontal HF-rTMS was effectively associated with antidepressant treatment, although the size effect was small.

Limitations: Shortage of the sample and control difficulties of the placebo effect.

Clinical relevance: Questionable in more than half of the patients studied.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Resistance
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Skull
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents