Background: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a treatment for depression has shown statistically significant effects, but the clinical significance of these effects has been questioned.
Methods: Patients with medication-resistant depression were randomized to receive 15 sessions of active or sham repetitive TMS delivered to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at 110% the estimated prefrontal cortex threshold. Each session consisted of 32 trains of 10 Hz repetitive TMS delivered in 5-second trains. The primary end point was treatment response defined as a >or=50% decrease in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) score at both 1 and 2 weeks following the final repetitive TMS treatment. Remission was defined as a HDRS score < 8.
Results: The response rate for the TMS group was 30.6% (11/35), significantly (p = .008) greater than the 6.1% (2/33) rate in the sham group. The remission rate for the TMS group was 20% (7/35), significantly (p = .033) greater than the 3% (1/33) rate in the sham group. The HDRS scores showed a significantly (p < .002) greater decrease over time in the TMS group compared with the sham group.
Conclusions: Transcranial magnetic stimulation can produce statistically and clinically significant antidepressant effects in patients with medication-resistant major depression.