Acute Reduction in Anxiety After Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (DTMS) in Unipolar Major Depression-a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Journal: Psychiatry Research 230:971-974 (2015)

Authors: K.K Kedzior, H.M Gellersen, Y Roth, A Zangen


Compared to the conventional repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) typically administered with the figure-of-eight coil, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS), utilizing the H-coil,stimulates wider and, most likely, deeper neural structures. While dTMS appears to be a promising antidepressant treatment, particularly in unipolar depression, it is not clear if it could also reduce anxiety symptoms in major depression.


This study investigated the anxiolytic properties of the deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) in unipolar major depression using a systematic literature review and meta-analysis.


A systematic literature search of Medline and PsycInfo databases (any time-January 2015) identified k=17 studies containing terms ‘deep transcranial magnetic stimulation’ and ‘depression’. Following exclusion criteria, six open-label studies were included in the quantitative analysis. All studies reported anxiety and depression severity scores according to Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS) and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), respectively.


There was a large acute anxiolytic effect after DTMS compared to baseline (pooled weighted d=1.45; 95% confidence interval, 95%CI: 1.10–1.80; p<.001; k=6 studies; N=95 patients). The anxiolytic effect was accompanied by a large acute reduction in depression severity after dTMS compared to baseline in the same studies (pooled weighted d=1.69; 95%CI: 1.38–2.01; p<.001; k=6 studies; N=95 patients). Unlike the anti-depressant effect, the anxiolytic effect was more heterogeneous among studies and did not depend on concurrent treatment with antidepressants.


These results suggest that high-frequency dTMS might have both anxiolytic and antidepressant properties in treatment-resistant, unipolar major depression. Future controlled studies are necessary to investigate the neural correlates, predictors, and durability of anxiolytic effects of dTMS in unipolar major depression.

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