Neuromodulation for depression: invasive and noninvasive (deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, trigeminal nerve stimulation)

Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2014 Jan;25(1):103-16. doi: 10.1016/


Major depressive disorder is among the most disabling illnesses and, despite best practices with medication and psychotherapy, many patients remain ill even after several treatment trials. For many of these patients with treatment-resistant or pharmacoresistant depression, treatment with neuromodulation offers an alternative. Options range from systems that are implanted to others that are entirely noninvasive. This review surveys recent literature to update readers on 3 particular interventions: deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and trigeminal nerve stimulation. Additional comparative research is needed to delineate the relative advantages of these treatments, and how best to match individual patients to neuromodulation intervention.

Keywords: Deep brain stimulation; Depression; Neuromodulation; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Treatment-resistant depression; Trigeminal nerve stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology*