A Review of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Use in Psychiatry
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique first introduced by Barker et al. in 1985. The principle of rTMS is based on a cortical neuronal transmembrane potential stimulated by a pulsative magnetic field. This magnetic field is induced by a direct electrical current sent through a circular coil. rTMS is an effective and widely used therapeutic stimulation method for psychiatric disorders, primarily for unipolar depression. Cost-effectiveness, minor side effects and well-tolerated profile of rTMS with no need to hospitalization for administation are the
prominent features of this method. Beside the information for depression, rTMS has been reported to have some remarkable impacts in alleviating symptoms of anxiety disorders. Although data regarding efficacy of rTMS in anxiety disorders is conflicting, there are positive outcomes about generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder whereas results of rTMS treatment in obsessive-compulsive disorder are generally not favorable. Since low frequency stimulation techniques have been found to be effective in treatment of auditory hallucinations, methodological similarity in concerned studies could be accepted as a supportive aspect of efficacy. Additionally, high frequency stimulation techniques applied to prefrontal area have a potential to impact negative symptoms of schizophrenia. With improving novel techniques of this stimulation method, rTMS is being used increasingly in psychiatric disorders. However, some issues concerning rTMS treatment such as maintenance or prophilactic therapy procedures, duration of effect are remain unclear. Hence, we conclude that multicenter sham controlled studies including similar designs, sociodemographic and clinical variables, methodological protocols with larger sample sizes and studies guieded by imaging methods are warranted to determinate efficacy and side effects of rTMS use in psychiatric disorders.