Improvements in Emotion Regulation Following Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Diefenbach GJ; Assaf M; Goethe JW; Gueorguieva R; Tolin DF.
Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 43:1-7, 2016 Oct.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by emotion regulation difficulties, which are associated with abnormalities in neural circuits encompassing fronto-limbic regions including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). The aim of this study was to determine whether DLPFC neuromodulation improves emotion regulation in patients with GAD. This is a secondary analysis from a randomized-controlled trial comparing 30 sessions of low-frequency right-sided active (n=13) versus sham (n=12, sham coil) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) at the right DLPFC in patients with GAD. Results indicated statistically significant improvements in self-reported emotion regulation difficulties at posttreatment and 3-month follow-up in the active group only. Improvements were found primarily in the domains of goal-directed behaviors and impulse control and were significantly associated with a global clinician rating of improvement. These preliminary results support rTMS as a treatment for GAD and suggest improved emotion regulation as a possible mechanism of change.