Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was effective and safe in this study from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

First, the details.

  • 301 patients with major depression who hadn’t benefited from prior treatment were randomly assigned active or sham TMS.
  • The patients were taking no drugs and didn’t know their group assignment.
  • Sessions were conducted 5 times per week for 4 to 6 weeks.

And, the results.

  • Response and remission were better in patients who received active TMS vs sham TMS.
  • Only about 5% of those treated dropped out of the study.
  • Side effects were generally mild and limited to transient scalp discomfort or pain.

The bottom line?
About 20% to 40% of patients with major depressive disorder do not benefit from antidepressants and psychotherapy.

TMS might be an alternative treatment, concluded the authors.

12/21/07 18:24 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.