Outcome to treatment for depression predicted

Outcome to treatment for depression predicted

Magnetic brain stimulation (rTMS) effective treatment

Nijmegen, February 27, 2012 – Favorable treatment outcome in 78% of depressed patients after on average 21 sessions. These results were recently published based on the combination of magnetic brain stimulation (rTMS) and psycho-therapy in the treatment of depression. It was further demonstrated that by means of brain activity – or EEG research- it could be predicted which patients would respond and which patients would not respond to this treatment combination.

rTMS is an effective addition to psychotherapy

In a large multicenter study in 90 patients with depression the combination of magnetic brain stimulation (rTMS) with psychotherapy was investigated. This research was also intended to investigate whether it is possible to predict in advance which patients will and which patients will not respond to treatment. The combination of rTMS treatment with psycho-therapy resulted in a success rate of 78. On average, patients needed 21 treatments. These results were just published in the leading international scientific journal ‘Brain Stimulation’.

Brain activity as a predictor of treatment outcome: Personalized Medicine

In this study it was also examined whether it was possible to predict treatment outcome based on brain function tests conducted before treatment was started. This development is also often referred to as ‘personalized medicine’. Psychological factors and personality variables such as perceived anxiety, stress and depression were not found to predict treatment outcome to rTMS. However, specific brain activity markers (quantitative EEG or QEEG markers) assessed before treatment, demonstrated to be good predictors of the effects of this combined treatment. If this results can be prospectively confirmed in a new population, this could be applied in practice and implicate that in the future patients may be advised about the likelihood of success before treatment is initiated.

What is rTMS?

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a neuromodulation technique used in the treatment of depression. With this technique, an electro-magnetic coil is placed over the head. By means of a pulsating magnetic field, specific parts of the brain are stimulated with the goal to modulate blood flow and electrical activity in a specific part of the brain. Click here for more information on rTMS in the treatment of depression.


Arns, M., Drinkenburg, W. H. I. M., Fitzgerald, P. B., & Kenemans, J. L. (In Press). Neurophysiological predictors of non-response to rTMS in depression. Brain Stimulation. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2011.12.003