A Comparison of 15-Minute vs 30-Minute Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Sessions for Treatment Resistant Depression – Are Longer Treatment Sessions More Effective?


Journal of Affective Disorders. 282:974-978, 2021 03 01.

Ford H; Hahn L; Clarke P; Gill S; Carnell B; Galletly C

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a safe and effective treatment for treatment resistant depression (TRD). The number of patients able to be treated with rTMS is determined by the availability of the machine and staff. If treatment delivered in a shorter time were just as effective as longer treatments, then more patients could be treated with the same resources.

This naturalistic study investigated 145 first-time patients treated with 15 minute (900 pulses) or 30 minute (1800 pulses) RLF rTMS for TRD 3 days/week for 6 weeks. Response and remission rates for the two groups were compared. We investigated whether longer right unilateral low (1Hz) frequency (RLF) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment sessions are more effective than shorter sessions in achieving response and remission for treatment resistant depression (TRD).

The duration of rTMS treatment sessions had no effect on treatment outcomes over the course of 6 weeks. The group treated with 15 minute rTMS sessions showed a partial response rate of 28.2%, a response rate of 11.5% and remission rate of 21.8%, which did not differ significantly from patients receiving 30 minute sessions who had a partial response rate of 25.4%, response rate of 17.9% and remission rate of 22.4%.

Participants were not randomized and the inclusion criteria were broad and reflected the nature of patients seen in routine practice.

Fifteen minute rTMS sessions 3 days/week for 6 weeks were as effective as 30 minute sessions, providing a pragmatic advantage for shorter treatments.