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Research on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

November 27 , 2007 Penn Research Shows Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Effective in Treating Major Depression Non-drug, non-invasive treatment helps patients who have tried other options without success.
PHILADELPHIA – Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and other study sites have found that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – a non-invasive technique that excites neurons in the brain via magnetic pulses passed through the scalp – is a safe and effective, non-drug treatment with minimal side effects for patients with major depression who have tried other treatment options without benefit.
This study – the largest to-date studying TMS as a standalone treatment for major depression – appears in the December 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry.
TMS provides a well-tolerated treatment option to patients whose depression is otherwise treatment resistant,” says John P. O’Reardon, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Penn, and lead study author. “Since TMS is administered via the scalp and therefore goes directly to the brain, it allows the patient to avoid bodily side effects such as weight gain, sedation and/or sexual function.”
The study was conducted at 23 sites in the U.S., Australia, and Canada, and involved 301 medication-free patients with major depression who had not benefited from prior treatment. The patients were randomized to active or sham TMS for 4-6 weeks. Response and remission rates with active TMS were approximately twice those of sham. Additionally, there were no unexpected, serious side effects, and less than 5% of patients discontinued their TMS due to side effects. This is about three times better tolerated and safer than standard medications, which have about a 15% discontinuation rate due to side effects.
Dr. O’Reardon further comments, “As indicated by recent large scale, government-sponsored, studies of existing treatment options for major depression conducted by the National Institute of Health (the STAR-D reports), there is a great need to develop new, effective treatments for patients, especially those not benefiting from first line interventions. The results of this study indicate that TMS offers new hope to patients in this regard.”
Additional study authors are H. Brent Solvason, Philip G. Janiak, Shirlene Sampson, Keith E. Isenberg, Ziad Nahas, William M. McDonald, David Avery, Paul B. Fitzgerald, Colleen Loo, Mark A. Demitrack, Mark S. George, and Harold A. Sackeim

References and Links

  • “Man ‘roused from coma’ by a magnetic field” 15 October 2008 news service at
  • “Enhancing savant like creative abilities with TMS” at
  • “Autism and hyperactivity helped by transcranial magnetic stimulation” at University of Louisville, Kentucky Autism News by Matthew Hogg Monday, 14 April 2008 at
  • Maintenance Treatment With Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in a Patient With Late-Onset Schizophrenia (hallucinations were greatly improved, by 80%) by EMMANUEL POULET, M.D., Ph.D., JEROME BRUNELIN, Ph.D., LASSAD KALLEL, M.D., THIERRY D’AMATO, M.D., Ph.D., and MOHAMED SAOUD, M.D., Ph.D., Lyon, France and Bron, France Am J Psychiatry 165:537-538, April, 2008 American Psychiatric Association
  • “Portable device effective in zapping away migraine pain” Ohio State University Medical Center 26-Jun-2008 at
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator Claims To Zap Away Migraines, Submitted by News Account on 25 June 2008 – 7:30am.Psychiatry . “Stimulation with magnetic pulses from the portable TMS device proved effective for the migraine patients” at scientificblogging/transcranial_magnetic_stimulator_claims_to_zap_
  • Magnetic Brain Stimulation for Sleepiness, Memory Impairment, Anxiety Disorders and Schizophrenia(As the researchers wrote in the journal Cerebral Cortex, “TMS recipients were speedier in memory tests following the treatment” at Columbia University (funded by the Department of Defense).
  • Magnetic Brain Stimulation Helps Depressed, Study Shows, Jan. 15, 2001 at Medical University of South Carolina
  • “Stimulating the Brain: Activating the brain’s circuitry with pulsed magnetic fields may help ease depression, enhance cognition, even fight fatigue”, Scientific American, September 2003 at
  • Literature search by psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg, MD at
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in the Treatment of Depression; A literature review by Ari A. Gershon, M.D., Pinhas N. Dannon, M.D., and Leon Grunhaus, M.D., Am J Psychiatry 160:835-845, May 2003 American Psychiatric Association at
  • Efficacy of TMS on Depression (with 53 references) in J. Psychiatry Neurosci 2005; 30(2) by Dr J. L. Couturier at
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation in psychiatry by Matthew Kirkcaldie and Saxby Pridmore Open Mind, the journal of the Tasmanian Association for Mental Health.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Neuropsychiatry, edited by Mark S. George and Robert H. Belmaker. American Psychiatric Press, Washington DC 2000.
  • Handbook of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, edited by Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Nick Davey, John Rothwell, Eric Wasserman, and Basant K. Puri. Oxford University Press, New York NY 2002.
  • Educational Video on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (patient says “I feel like superman afterwards; better sleeping, appetite, energy, motivation, optimism”) from Fuqua Center For Late-Life Depression at Emory University at
  1. Publications on treatment of “Depersonalization” using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulationfrom a clinical trial to evaluate the clinical efficacy of transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of Depersonalization Disorder (DPD) Strong electromagnetic fields generated briefly (~1ms) but repetitively (1 to5 Hz) applied for 30mins, in five sessions per week for up to twelve weeks at
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  7. Hunter EC, Baker D, Phillips ML, Sierra M, David AS. Cognitive-behaviour therapy for depersonalisation disorder: an open study. Behav Res Ther. 2005 Sep;43(9):1121-30.
  8. Jimenez-Genchi AM. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation improves depersonalization: a case report. CNS Spectr. 2004 May;9(5):375-6.
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  11. Simeon D, Guralnik O, Schmeidler J, Knutelska M. Fluoxetine therapy in depersonalisation disorder: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Jul;185:31-6.
  12. Simeon D, Knutelska M. An open trial of naltrexone in the treatment of depersonalization disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2005 Jun;25(3):267-70.
  13. Simeon D. Depersonalisation disorder: a contemporary overview. CNS Drugs. 2004;18(6):343-54. Review.
  14. Wassermann EM. Risk and safety of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: report and suggested guidelines from the International Workshop on the Safety of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, June 5-7, 1996. Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1998 Jan;108(1):1-16.
  15. Stimulating brain with electricity aids learning speed , “applied to healthy adults: their speed of learning was also significantly increased”
  16. Electric current ‘boosts maths “targeting a part of the brain called the parietal lobe improved the ability of volunteers to solve numerical problems” 04 NOVEMBER 2010, HEALTH
  17. Magnets help regrow brain cells “Trans cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been used to treat certain disorders, including depression and schizophrenia and to enhance memory and rehabilitate people after stroke”.
    02 May 07 | Health
  18. Therapy hope for stroke victims Professor Rothwell said: “We can turn up or turn down the brain at will.” “It might be useful in epilepsy” 20 Jan 05 | Health
  19. Magnetic therapy helps stroke patients “The scientists are reawakening parts of the brain damaged through stroke” 07 SEPTEMBER 2011
  20. Magnetic therapy for spine injury “The therapy led to improved muscle and limb movement, and increased ability to feel sensations” 11 May 04 | Health
  21. Brain pulses stimulate deep sleep Enhances slow wave activity, believed to be critical to the restoration of mood and the ability to learn, think and remember, Edinburgh Sleep Centre 02 May 07 | Health