The introduction of TMS therapy for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) has been a gift for individuals who were not responsive to traditional antidepressant drug therapy. In fact, according to recent studies on the effectiveness of antidepressants, only about half of the patients trialing antidepressants to treat major depression found the drugs to be effective. These individuals had few options until the FDA cleared TMS therapy for treating MDD in 2008.
The clearance of TMS for treating major depression did not occur in a vacuum. Prior to being cleared several clinical studies were conducted, demonstrating that TMS therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for individuals with treatment-resistant MDD. Since the early 2000s, countless clinical trials have continued to point to the high response and remission rates of TMS therapy.
Studies Demonstrate TMS Effectiveness
Clinical trials have continued to show promising results for individuals struggling with major depression and depression with co-occurring anxiety. Statistically significant success rates are measured using assessment instruments such as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, the Clinical Global Impression scale, and other psychological assessment tools. Following are a small sampling of trial summaries that demonstrate the safety and efficacy of TMS therapy for treating the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Clinical trials: TMS for depression:
- Examining the clinical studies reviews involving 1092 patients in 24 studies, the systematic meta-analysis found that the response and remission rates for TMS were significantly higher than the sham conditions, and concluded that TMS appears to provide significant benefit in short-term studies.
- A multisite sham-controlled study of 199 patients with MDD demonstrated a four-fold incidence of attaining remission from MDD symptoms using the TMS therapy versus the sham.
- A multisite study of TMS from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago with 301 participants demonstrated high response rates and low relapse rates after a six-month period.
- A large study that included 325 patients from 23 clinical sites located in the U.S., Australia, and Canada sought to evaluate TMS safety after acute exposure to the TMS therapy, extended exposure, and follow-up exposure. The study concluded that TMS is well tolerated and safe for the treatment of MDD.
Clinical trials: TMS for anxiety disorders:
- A randomized, double-blind sham-controlled trial tested TMS for individuals with GAD and concluded that those receiving the TMS showed a clinically significant decrease in anxiety symptoms versus the sham group.
- A double-blind, sham-controlled study of GAD patients demonstrated response and remission rates among the participants receiving the TMS versus the sham group.
- A sham-controlled study of participants with OCD demonstrated that the ones who received the TMS therapy had a 41% response rate compared to the 10% response rate in the sham group.
TMS trials continue to be conducted globally in order to further assess the value of TMS therapy in treating mental health disorders. As new potential applications are considered, in both medicine and psychiatry, clinical studies of TMS will continue to broaden.