A new clinical study finds that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an effective treatment for patients with depression who are unable to find symptom relief through antidepressant medications.
Researchers say that this is one of the first studies to review TMS in real-world clinical practice settings.
TMS has been the subject of more than 30 published trials, with the trials generally supporting the use of TMS to treat depression when medications aren’t sufficient.
“Those previous studies were key in laying the groundwork for the FDA to approve the first device for delivery of TMS as a treatment for depression in 2008,” said Linda Carpenter, M.D., lead author of the report and chief of the Mood Disorders Program and the Neuromodulation Clinic at Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I.
The study findings are found online in journal Depression and Anxiety.
“Naturalistic studies like ours, which provide scrutiny of real-life patient outcomes when TMS therapy is given in actual clinical practice settings, are the next step in further understanding the effectiveness of TMS. They are also important for informing healthcare policy, particularly in an era when difficult decisions must be made about allocation of scarce resources,” Carpenter.
Carpenter explains that naturalistic studies differ from controlled clinical trials because they are reflective of real-world cases with a wider range of symptomatology and comorbidity, whereas controlled clinical trials typically have more rigid criteria for inclusion.
“As a multisite study collecting naturalistic outcomes from patients in clinics in various regions in the U.S., we were also able to capture effects that might arise from introducing a novel psychiatric treatment modality like TMS in non-research settings,” said Carpenter.
In all, the study confirms how well TMS works in diverse settings where TMS is administered to a real-life population of patients with depression that have not found relief through many other available treatments.
The published report summarized data collected from 42 clinical TMS practice sites in the U.S., and included outcomes from 307 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who had persistent symptoms despite the use of antidepressant medication.
Outcomes from the TMS intervention included both clinicians’ ratings of overall depression severity and scores on patient self-report depression scales, which require the patient to rate the severity of each symptom on the same standardized scale at the end of each 2-week period.
“The patient outcomes we found in this study demonstrated a response rate similar to controlled clinical trial populations,” said Carpenter, explaining that this new data validates TMS efficacy in treating depression for those who have failed to benefit from antidepressant medications.
Source: Women & Infants Hospital