Adverse Childhood Experiences and Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Outcomes for Depression

SOURCE: Journal of Affective Disorders. 320:716-724, 2023 Jan 01.

AUTHORS: Ng E; Wong EHY; Lipsman N; Nestor SM; Giacobbe P

BACKGROUND: History of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is associated with poorer treatment outcomes in depression. How ACEs affect outcomes from repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is not well-defined. The primary aim was to investigate whether ACEs affect depression outcomes in patients receiving high frequency rTMS, either deep TMS (dTMS) or intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS), to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

METHODS: The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17) was collected at baseline and every 2 weeks for 4-6 weeks. Outcomes included improvement in HAMD-17 and remission. The ACE-10 questionnaire was used to quantify categories of ACEs. Data from 99 patients with MDD receiving an acute rTMS course were analyzed.

RESULTS: Patients had a mean of 2.4 ACEs (SD 2.5). No significant differences in outcomes were found between dTMS or iTBS so these data were pooled. Using a continuous ACE variable showed no significant impact on outcomes. Using a categorical ACE variable (0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or more) did not reveal significant effects of ACEs on outcomes. Higher ACE was associated with steeper decrease in HAMD-17 only from baseline to week 2 but not at other times.

LIMITATIONS: This was an open-label study. The well-validated ACE questionnaire does not measure severity or frequency of adversities.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with depression receiving rTMS reported on average 2.4 ACEs. ACE scores may lead to a steeper early decline in HAMD-17 but did not otherwise impact depression outcomes. Presence of high levels of ACEs should not preclude consideration of rTMS for depression.