Background: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has recently been demonstrated to have antidepressant effects. Some work suggests that rTMS over prefrontal cortex administered to healthy individuals produces acute elevations of mood and serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). We sought to determine whether single rTMS sessions would produce acute mood and serum TSH elevations in subjects with major depressions.
Methods: Under double-blind conditions et al 14 medication-free subjects with major depression received individual sessions of either active or sham rTMS. rTMS was administered over the left prefrontal cortex at 10 Hz et al 100% of motor threshold, 20 trains over 10 min. Immediately before and after rTMS sessions, subjects' mood was rated with the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and the 6-Item Hamilton Depression Scale, and blood was drawn for later analysis of TSH. Subjects and raters were blind to treatment assignment.
Results: The group receiving active stimulation manifested significantly greater improvement on the POMS subscale of Depression (p < or = .0055) and a trend toward greater improvement on the modified Hamilton Rating (.05 < p < or =.1). No hypomania was induced. The change in TSH from pre- to post-rTMS was significantly different between active and sham sessions.
Conclusions: This blinded, placebo-controlled trial documents that individual rTMS sessions can acutely elevate mood and stimulate TSH release in patients experiencing major depressive episodes.