Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the flagship medical device by NeuroStar, has been demonstrated to effectively reduce major depressive symptoms during pregnancy. TMS Therapy offers a safe and effective alternative to pharmaceutical antidepressants to women who choose to abstain from traditional pharmaceuticals. The results of a recent study were presented at the 12th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry earlier this month.
The study observed 22 women with major depressive disorder, who ranged from 14 to 34 weeks in gestation. The study treated 12 patients with active TMS and another 10 treated with a placebo.
The patients receiving the TMS therapy were given 20 sessions of right-sided TMS delivered to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at a dose of 1 Hz in a 15-minute train at 100% motor threshold (900 pulses/session), while the other group received a placebo that was administered by mimicking the first group’s, real treatment.
While the left-side is the traditional location for TMS to be administered, investigators selected the right-side to minimize any risk for seizure. If seizure does occur in pregnancy, it can result in fetal death.
At the end of treatment, 75% of women who received who received active TMS therapy responded to treatment at the end of the 20-session protocol, while only 50% of women given the placebo responded.
“Neither progesterone nor any other levels of female hormones were different between the two groups, so we are not doing anything systemically to these women when they undergo TMS. Otherwise, they would not be able to have a successful pregnancy,” said study investigator Deborah Kim, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
Adverse events from the magnetic effect from TMS would not be expected, said Dr Kim, because the magnet only influences a 2×2-cm area of the cortex and so comes nowhere near the uterus.
“This is really an acceptability issue,” said Dr. Kim. “Women will say that they prefer psychotherapy over medication, but access to psychotherapy and its cost limit its use, and the fact that not everybody responds to psychotherapy means we need something else,” she said.