Transdiagnostic Symptom Subtypes to Predict Response to Therapeutic Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Major Depressive Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

J Pers Med. 2022 Feb 6;12(2):224. doi: 10.3390/jpm12020224.


The diagnostic categories in psychiatry often encompass heterogeneous symptom profiles associated with differences in the underlying etiology, pathogenesis and prognosis. Prior work demonstrated that some of this heterogeneity can be quantified though dimensional analysis of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS), yielding unique transdiagnostic symptom subtypes. This study investigated whether classifying patients according to these symptom profiles would have prognostic value for the treatment response to therapeutic transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in comorbid major depressive disorder (MDD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A linear discriminant model was constructed using a simulation dataset to classify 35 participants into one of the following six pre-defined symptom profiles: Normative Mood, Tension, Anxious Arousal, Generalized Anxiety, Anhedonia and Melancholia. Clinical outcomes with TMS across MDD and PTSD were assessed. All six symptom profiles were present. After TMS, participants with anxious arousal were less likely to achieve MDD remission compared to other subtypes (FET, odds ratio 0.16, p = 0.034), exhibited poorer PTSD symptom reduction (21% vs. 46%; t (33) = 2.025, p = 0.051) and were less likely to complete TMS (FET, odds ratio 0.066, p = 0.011). These results offer preliminary evidence that classifying individuals according to these transdiagnostic symptom profiles may offer a simple method to inform TMS treatment decisions.

Keywords: TMS; anxious arousal; biomarker; linear discriminant analysis; symptom subtypes; transdiagnostic.