Transcranial magnetic stimulation

What is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for PTSD?

Repetitive TMS (rTMS) is a non-invasive method used to stimulate nerve cells in superficial layers of the brain. Control comparisons include ‘sham’ rTMS, which may involve tilting the stimulation coil against the scalp by 45 or 90 degrees, thus reducing the degree of brain stimulation, or use of a “placebo” coil of identical appearance. These placebo methods usually involve a ‘click’ noise but no magnetic field and no twitching sensation on the scalp. Comparison groups can also receive active rTMS applied to other brain regions.

What is the evidence for the effectiveness of rTMS for PTSD?

Moderate quality evidence found large improvements in PTSD and anxiety symptoms following rTMS compared to sham rTMS. This analysis included studies that mostly stimulated the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and used high frequency stimulation (>5 Hz) rather than low frequency stimulation (1 Hz). Deleting the low frequency stimulation studies resulted in improvements in PTSD symptoms only. There were no significant differences between active and sham groups for depression symptoms using the Hamilton Depression Scale or for overall symptoms using clinician assessment.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 11:32 am, 30th November 2021
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