Two Versus One High-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Session per Day for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Randomized Sham-Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Objectives

High-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (HF-rTMS) has proven antidepressant effects, but the optimal frequency of sessions remains unclear.

Methods

We conducted a 3-week, sham-controlled trial to assess the antidepressant efficacy of 1 active HF-rTMS session per day (A1 group) compared with 2 per day (A2 group) and equivalent sham sessions (once a day, S1 group; twice a day, S2 group) in patients with treatment-resistant major depression with a subsequent 2-week follow-up period. One hundred seventy-seven patients were screened, of whom 105 met eligibility criteria and 98 consented and were randomized. The HF-rTMS (20 Hz) was targeted to the left prefrontal cortex in sessions of approximately 40 trains (2 seconds each) at 100% resting motor threshold with an intertrain interval of 1 minute. Treatment response was defined as a 50% or greater decrease in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) score and/or Clinician Global Impressions-Severity of Illness (CGI-S) score of 3 or less. Remission was defined as HDRS score less than 8 and/or CGI-S score of 2 or less.

Results

Practically none of the subjects in either sham groups achieved remission. Increased odds of remission were present for CGI-S by stimulating twice rather than once per day (odds ratio [OR] = 1.5, P = 0.018), whereas there was a marginal result for HDRS (OR = 3.9, P = 0.066). Patients who had lower baseline HDRS (OR = 0.75, P = 0.014) and CGI-S scores (OR = 0.18, P = 0.001) were more likely to achieve remission.

Conclusions

Twice per day active HF-rTMS might be more effective than once per day active HF-rTMS or sham stimulation.

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