Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation May Help With Bipolar Depression


A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology suggests a non-invasive procedure called deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) is helpful for the treatment of bipolar depression.

This is encouraging news since treatment options for bipolar depression are limited, and some individuals do not respond well to current standard treatment methods.

The study involved 50 participants taking medication for bipolar depression. Half the participants received dTMS during 20 sessions given over a four-week period. During the sessions, participants’ brain cells were magnetically stimulated by an electrical coil placed inside head gear worn by the participants.

The remaining 25 subjects went through the same 20 sessions wearing head gear that did not generate magnetic fields to stimulate the brain, but mimicked the sounds and sensations of an active coil. Forty-three of the participants completed all 20 sessions.

Immediately after completing the study, those who received dTMS scored an average of 4.88 points higher on a depression rating scale than those receiving the pretend treatment (a three point difference is considered clinically significant). The dTMS group demonstrated better overall functioning than the other group as well. However, four weeks after the study’s end, there were no longer significant differences in symptoms or functioning between the two groups.

The researchers, Dr. Andre R. Brunoni, of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Z. Jeff Daskalakis, M.S, Ph.D. of the University of Toronto concluded that dTMS can be an effective adjunct therapy for patients taking medication for bipolar depression. They believe patients may enjoy greater benefit from a longer initial dTMS program, or by receiving maintenance treatments following the initial sessions.

Source: Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
Photo credit: Vinay Shivakumar


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