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TMS may bring remission in bipolar depression

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Jul 16

By: BRUCE JANCIN, Clinical Psychiatry News Digital Network

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. – Transcranial magnetic stimulation shows promise in highly treatment-resistant bipolar depression, a small observational study suggested.

Most studies of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have focused on treatment of major depressive disorder, the indication for which this noninvasive device therapy has Food and Drug Administration approval. TMS also is under study for the treatment of headaches, as well as for improvement of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Yet little work has been done on TMS for bipolar depression, even though a pressing need exists for new treatment options for this often highly disruptive mood disorder. Antidepressant medications are often ineffective or can trigger a switch to a manic or hypomanic episode, Dr. William S. Gilmer noted at a meeting of the New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. William Gilmer

 

He reported on 10 patients with bipolar II disorder and 4 who met criteria for bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. All had complicated nonpsychotic depression. All were refractory to and/or intolerant of multiple antidepressant agents during their current episode; indeed, the patients had previously been on a mean of 6.4 antidepressant drugs during this episode, which had already lasted more than 18 months in 9 of 14 cases. Four patients were previous nonresponders to ECT. None of the subjects had bipolar activation symptoms such as grandiosity, nocturnal alertness, or agitation at baseline, according to Dr. Gilmer, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, Chicago.

 

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