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.