Clinical Applications of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Bipolar Disorder

Clinical Applications of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Bipolar Disorder

Brain and Behavior. 9(10):e01419, 2019 10.

Gold AK; Ornelas AC; Cirillo P; Caldieraro MA; Nardi AE; Nierenberg AA; Kinrys G.

Many patients with bipolar disorder (BD) fail to experience benefit following traditional pharmacotherapy, necessitating alternative treatment options that will enable such patients to achieve remission. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a relatively new, noninvasive neuromodulation technique that involves the application of magnetic pulses on hyperactive or hypoactive cortical brain areas. We evaluated the existing literature on TMS as a treatment for BD across varied mood states.

We searched PubMed up to October 2018 for original data articles published in English that evaluated outcomes in a bipolar sample across depressive, manic, mixed, and maintenance phases of BD.

Clinical trials of TMS for BD particularly suggest the potential of repetitive TMS for reducing depressive symptoms. Studies of TMS for mania have yielded more mixed findings. Few studies have evaluated TMS in other phases of the bipolar illness. TMS is generally associated with mild side effects though, in a few studies, it has been shown to contribute to a manic switch in previously depressed bipolar patients.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a promising approach for treating patients with BD who have failed to respond to pharmacological or psychosocial treatment. Future research should more clearly elucidate which TMS protocols may be most effective for a given bipolar patient.