Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Lights and Shadows

SOURCE: World Journal of Clinical Cases. 10(17) (pp 5929-5933), 2022.


AUTHORS: Concerto C.; Lanza G.; Fisicaro F.; Pennisi M.; Rodolico A.; Torrisi G.; Bella R.; Aguglia E.

ABSTRACT: We have read with interest the publication that describes the available data related to the use of neuromodulation strategies for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite treatment advances, however, a substantial proportion of PTSD patients receiving psychological and/or pharmacological treatment do not reach an adequate clinical response. In their paper, the authors draw attention to the current understanding of the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as a potential treatment for PTSD. Most of the previous studies indeed applied both inhibitory (1 Hz) and excitatory (> 1 Hz, up to 20 Hz) rTMS to the right and/or left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Despite larger therapeutic effects observed when high-frequency stimulation was applied, the question of which side and frequency of stimulation is the most successful is still debated. The authors also reported on the after-effect of rTMS related to neuroplasticity and identified the intermittent theta burst stimulation as a technique of particular interest because of it showed the most effective improvement on PTSD symptoms. However, although numerous studies have highlighted the possible beneficial use of rTMS protocols for PTSD, the exact mechanism of action remains unclear. In their conclusions, the authors stated that rTMS has been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment of PTSD symptoms. Nevertheless, we believe that further research with homogeneous samples, standardized protocols, and objective outcome measures is needed to identify specific therapeutic targets and to better define significant changes when active and sham stimulation procedures are compared.