Custom TMS Halved Depression Symptoms and Treatment Time

A customized version of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) guided by quantitative EEG (qEEG) analysis helped half of depression symptoms in 47% of patients in a study recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Previous studies have shown TMS to be effective in about one-third of patients. With the goal of improving response rates and treatment duration, the researchers developed a system of quantitative EEG analysis (qEEG) which delivers an EEG phenotype associated with depression or anxiety that is customizable to each patient. They chose theta burst stimulation (TBS) as the mode of delivery to shorten treatment time.

The open, uncontrolled, naturalistic study included 96 women and 114 men. Researchers used the Hamilton Depression Rating scale to measure depression symptoms. Almost all patients were taking some type of antidepressant before and during the study. Follow-up evaluations took place 4 weeks after treatment.

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Across both the TMS and TBS groups, 47% achieved at least a 50% reduction in depression rating scores, while an additional 29% achieved a 30 to 50% reduction over a mean of .03 +/-0.3 treatment sessions. Using the customized TBS treatment “almost halved” treatment time within a session compared with TBS.

Because of the study design, the researchers say they can’t compare TBS and TMS when used alone. However, the qEEG-guided TMS treatment is a “valuable addition to the therapeutic armamentarium.”


Robertson C, Mortimer A. Quantitative EEG (qEEG) guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment for depression and anxiety disorders: An open, observational cohort study of 210 patients. J Affect Disord. 2022;308:322-327. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2022.04.076

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Custom TMS Halved Depression Symptoms and Treatment Time