Efficacy and Safety of Intensive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

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Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is customarily applied on a daily basis for prolonged periods of time for the treatment of psychiatric diseases. The process is demanding in terms of staff and patient time, and the onset of the effect is slow. Recently, intensive rTMS protocols have been introduced in which stimulation is applied to the same area more than once a day with a higher than standard number of pulses. This article reviews 16 articles to determine the safety and efficacy of such protocols. Intensive rTMS seems to be effective in various mental disorders. It appears to have, in general, the same adverse events as classic, long-term, daily rTMS, and it is largely well tolerated by the patients. One episode of depersonalization, one of increased suicidal thoughts, and two of induced mania were observed in the 16 studies reviewed. The advantages of intensive rTMS are in the possible acute effect of the stimulation and in the possible reduction in the time required to achieve remission in depression (and potentially other disorders). It remains uncertain whether intensive rTMS is more effective than sham stimulation or once-daily, long-term rTMS.

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