According to the WHO fact sheet depression is a common mental disorder affecting 350 million people of all ages worldwide. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a technique which allows the investigator to stimulate and study cortical functions in healthy subjects and patients suffering from various mental and neurological disorders. In the early 1990s, studies revealed that it is possible to evoke long term mood changes in healthy volunteers by rapid rate repetitive, TMS (rTMS) over the frontal cortex. Subsequent studies involving depressed patients found frontal cortical rTMS administered daily to be clinically effective. In the past two decades, numerous trials examined the therapeutic potential of rTMS application in the treatment of mood disorders with constantly evolving treatment protocols. The aim of this paper is to review the literature of the past two decades, focusing on trials addressing the efficacy and safety of rTMS in depressed patients. Our primary goal is to evaluate the results in order to direct future studies which may help investigators in the development of treatment protocols suitable in hospital settings. The time is not far when TMS devices will be used routinely by practitioners primarily for therapeutic purpose rather than clinical research. To our knowledge, a widely accepted "gold standard" that would offer the highest efficacy, with the best tolerability has not been established yet. In order to approach this goal, the most important factors to be addressed by further studies are: localization, frequency, intensity, concurrent medication, maintenance treatments, number of pulses, trains, unilateral, or bilateral mode of application.
- Biological treatments
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology