Updated Review on the Clinical Use of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Psychiatric Disorders

Neurosci Bull. 2017 Dec;33(6):747-756. doi: 10.1007/s12264-017-0185-3. Epub 2017 Oct 24.


With the ability to modulate cortical activity, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is becoming increasingly important in clinical applications for psychiatric disorders. Previous studies have demonstrated its promising efficacy in depression and schizophrenia, and emerging evidence has also been found in patients with anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance or food craving. However, the overall literature features some conflicting results, varied quality of studies, and a lack of consensus on optimal rTMS parameters. Besides, the efficacy of rTMS in patients with medication-resistant symptoms has drawn most attention from clinicians. Here we review multi-site studies and double-blind randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in single sites, as well as meta-analyses of RCTs in the last three years, in order to update evidence on efficacy and the optimal protocol of rTMS in psychiatric disorders, especially for medication-resistant symptoms.

Keywords: Anxiety disorders; Obsessive compulsive disorder; Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; Schizophrenia; Substance use disorders; Treatment-resistant depression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / standards