by Philip G Janicak, MD and Mehmet E Dokucu, MD
Abstract: Major depression is often difficult to diagnose accurately. Even when the diagnosis is properly made, standard treatment approaches (eg, psychotherapy, medications, or their combination) are often inadequate to control acute symptoms or maintain initial benefit. Additional obstacles involve safety and tolerability problems, which frequently preclude an adequate course of treatment. This leaves an important gap in our ability to properly manage major depression in a substantial proportion of patients, leaving them vulnerable to ensuing complications (eg, employment-related disability, increased risk of suicide, comorbid medical disorders, and substance abuse). Thus, there is a need for more effective and better tolerated approaches. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a neuromodulation technique increasingly used to partly fill this therapeutic void. In the context of treating depression, we critically review the development of transcranial magnetic stimulation, focusing on the results of controlled and pragmatic trials for depression, which consider its efficacy, safety, and tolerability.
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