The antidepressant effect of repetitive magnetic transcranial stimulation (rTMS) lasts longer when the initial treatment is followed by maintenance sessions, concludes a study led by scientists from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (CCU), and now published in the journal Brain Stimulation.
Repetitive TMS is a non-invasive, painless technique indicated for the treatment of patients with depression for whom drugs and psychotherapy have not worked. An rTMS machine was acquired, in July last year, by the Neuropsychiatry Unit of the CCU.
Now, for the first time, Albino Oliveira-Maia, director of this unit, and Gonçalo Cotovio, psychiatry resident and a PhD student in Oliveira-Maia’s team, systematically re-analized the body of results from the most reliable studies that are currently available in the scientific literature on the durability of rTMS treatment.
The most important result of this new study in terms of the clinical use of TMS in depression was that it seems to be advisable, for patients who get better with rTMS, to have maintenance sessions after the initial treatment. “This is the first clear result pointing in that direction”, says Oliveira Maia.