rTMS for adolescents: Safety and efficacy considerations

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, 600 N. Wolfe St. Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.
Psychiatry Research (Impact Factor: 2.47). 04/2010; 177(3):280-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2010.03.004
Source: PubMed


In light of both the FDA's clearance of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for adult major depressive disorder and concerns about safety and efficacy of existing antidepressant therapies for adolescent depression, there is increasing interest in rTMS as a novel treatment for adolescent depression. We reviewed English-language studies using rTMS in persons under the age of 18, yielding 6 published reports. Because rTMS is typically delivered at or above 1 Hz for psychiatric indications, our search was confined to these frequencies. Also included are studies involving rTMS above 1 Hz for non-psychiatric indications. Articles were retrieved from the MEDLINE database. There were 19 reported subjects under age 18 who have been administered rTMS at a frequency above 1 Hz: 10 for major depression, 5 for spastic cerebral palsy and 4 for epilepsia partialis continua. We found that most subjects responded favorably to rTMS and no adverse events have been reported. However data are insufficient for drawing firm conclusions about safety and efficacy. Further studies of rTMS as a treatment for adolescent depression are warranted.

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    • "For these adult populations the most common side effects of treatment are transient scalp discomfort and headaches [20]. Concerns have also been raised regarding the likelihood of seizures induced by treatment [20] [21]. Safety reviews estimate a one in 30,000 chance of seizure due to rTMS procedures [16] [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Depressive disorders are among the most commonly experienced mental health concerns and a leading cause of mortality in adolescence. Current treatment guidelines recommend the use of antidepressant medication, cognitive behavioral therapy or both treatments. Unfortunately 40–60% of adolescents fail to respond to these treatments, therefore a new effective alternative treatment modality would be of particular benefit. rTMS is effective in addressing treatment resistant depression in adults and investigation into its effectiveness with adolescent populations has begun. Objective To examine the existing literature regarding the efficacy and safety of rTMS treatment with adolescents experiencing depressive symptoms, especially research conducted since the last published review. Methods A systematic review was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. The databases of OVID PsycINFO, PubMed, Ovid Medline and Web of Science were searched for research utilizing rTMS treatment with adolescents experiencing depressive symptomology. Results The review identified seven studies that examined rTMS as a treatment for depressive symptomology in adolescence. Findings indicate rTMS is likely to be an effective treatment for young people with preliminary longitudinal results suggesting maintenance of effects 3 years post-treatment. Reported side effects have included headaches, scalp discomfort and single incidences of hypomania and seizure. All side effects were transitory and did not recur. Conclusion Preliminary results suggest rTMS is an effective and well tolerated antidepressant treatment for adolescents with treatment resistant depressive symptomology. Further research allowing for comparison across studies is necessary to establish the efficacy of rTMS in adolescent depression.
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