Efficacy of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression Confirmed in New Study
Carpenter explains that naturalistic studies differ from controlled clinical trials because they permit the inclusion of subjects 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 US, and included outcomes from 307 patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) who had persistent symptoms despite the use of antidepressant medication. Change during TMS was assessed using 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. Rates for "response" and "remission" to TMS were calculated based on the same cut-off scores and conventions used for other clinical trials of antidepressant treatments. Fifty-eight percent positive response rate to TMS and 37 percent remission rate were observed.
"The patient outcomes we found in this study demonstrated a response rate similar to controlled clinical trial populations," said Dr. Carpenter, explaining that this new data validates TMS efficacy in treating depression for those who have failed to benefit from antidepressant medications. "Continued research and confirmation of the effectiveness of TMS is important for understanding its place in everyday psychiatric care and to support advocacy for insurance coverage of the treatment." Thanks in part to the advocacy efforts of Dr. Carpenter, TMS was recently approved for coverage by Medicare in New England, and it is also now covered by BCBSRI. "Next steps for TMS research involve enhancing our understanding of how to maintain positive response to TMS over time after the course of therapy ends and learning how to customize the treatment for patients using newer technologies, so TMS can help even more patients."