Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression in Active-Duty Service Members Improves Depressive Symptoms.

Source: Journal of ECT. 36(4):279-284, 2020 Dec.

Authors: Roach AE; Hines C; Stafford J; Mooney S

Current research on the efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex as a noninvasive therapy for treatment-resistant depression is largely settled science. However, little is known about its efficacy with active-duty service members (ADSMs) with major depressive disorder. In a retrospective chart review, we examined depressive symptom ratings in ADSMs seeking treatment at the US Army Outpatient Behavioral Health Service Clinic at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, Ga.

METHODS: We reviewed 121 consecutive outpatient charts, which yielded 61 ADSMs who completed a minimum of 20 rTMS sessions for refractory depression, and for whom both pretreatment and posttreatment depressive symptom ratings were available. Pre- and post-Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) scores were subjected to a paired t test, and Reliable Change Indices were calculated to determine both reliable and clinical significance.

RESULTS: Average (SD) pretreatment and posttreatment PHQ-9 scores were 15.8 (6.2) and 12.6 (7.6), respectively. Statistically significant reduction in post-PHQ-9 was demonstrated (P < 0.001), with 69% of patients lowering their ratings and 31% demonstrating reliable change (improvement >5.64). Additionally, 20% demonstrated a reliable change that placed them in the non-dysfunctional range (post-PHQ-9 <9.6), demonstrating clinical significance.

CONCLUSIONS: These data confirm a course of standard rTMS to ADSMs with major depression is promising in reducing depressive symptoms. Given that success and completion rates from this clinic are similar to those reported in civilian populations (80%), rTMS may be an adequate additional treatment or augmentation strategy for refractory depression in ADSMs.