Background: Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (DTMS) is a relatively new, non-invasive method of stimulating larger and, presumably, deeper brain regions. The current study investigated if DTMS delivered with H-coils has acute antidepressant effects in major depression using a systematic literature review and a quantitative meta-analysis.
Methods: Seventeen studies on 'DTMS or H-coil' and 'depression' were identified on Medline, PsycInfo, and Google Scholar (until November 2014). Data from nine open-label studies were meta-analysed using a random-effects model with inverse-variance weights. The outcome measures were the standardised paired mean difference (Cohen's d) in depression scores on Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), response, remission, and dropout rates after acute DTMS treatment compared to baseline.
Results: There was a large antidepressant effect after 20 acute, high-frequency DTMS sessions compared to baseline according to HDRS change scores (overall mean weighted d=2.04, 95% confidence interval: 1.53-2.55; nine studies; 150 patients). Overall weighted response, remission, and dropout rates were 60%, 29%, and 18% respectively. HDRS change scores and response rates tended to be higher in four studies with 68 patients on concurrent antidepressants compared to two studies with 26 patients who received DTMS as a monotherapy.
Limitations: These results are based on data from a low number of open-label studies.
Conclusion: High-frequency DTMS appears to have acute antidepressant effects after 20 sessions in mostly unipolar and treatment-resistant patients. Concurrent treatment with antidepressants might enhance the efficacy of DTMS.
Keywords: Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (DTMS); Major depressive disorder (MDD); Meta-analysis; Systematic literature review.
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