Is the Response to rTMS Largely the Result of Non-Specific Effects?

SOURCE: Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 55(5):445-450, 2021 05.

AUTHORS: Malhi GS; Bell E

ABSTRACT: The efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in the treatment of depression is disputed. This is partly because, to date, insufficient good-quality studies have been conducted, and a definitive clinical profile for which rTMS is best suited is yet to be determined. However, another equally important reason for questioning the efficacy of rTMS is that the clinical response to its application is thought to be the result of predominantly non-specific and placebo effects. Therefore, in this viewpoint we examine this possibility in detail and propose a meaningful way forward for rTMS research.