TMS Articles

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Ineffective for People with Bipolar Disorder

“Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Ineffective for People with Bipolar Disorder
A new study finds that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was no better than placebo for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

A new study tested transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treating people with a bipolar disorder diagnosis. The researchers found that actual TMS was no better than a sham (fake) treatment.

The study was led by Lakshmi N. Yatham at the University of British Columbia Hospital in Canada and published in JAMA Network Open.

The specific type of intervention used is intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS), a type of TMS. The researchers targeted the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (LDPC) in the brain. The goal was to relieve depression symptoms in people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

iTBS was used, and the LDPC was targeted because these are currently popular TMS methods in depression treatment. Yatham writes:

“There was no evidence of antidepressant superiority for active iTBS over sham iTBS, and safety is uncertain because 1 hypomanic switch occurred with active iTBS and a second occurred during the open-label phase.”

That is, people randomly assigned to the fake treatment did just as well as people who received actual iTBS. Additionally, two people undergoing actual iTBS became hypomanic—compared with none who were receiving the sham treatment.”

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