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Donse, Lana; Padberg, Frank; Sack, Alexander T.; Rush, A. John; Arns, Martijn (2018): Simultaneous rTMS and psychotherapy in major depressive disorder: Clinical outcomes and predictors from a large naturalistic study. In: Brain Stimulation, Vol. 11, No. 2: pp. 337-345
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Abstract

Background: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is considered an efficacious non-invasive neuromodulation treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). However, little is known about the clinical outcome of combined rTMS and psychotherapy (rTMS thorn PT). Through common neurobiological brain mechanisms, rTMS thorn PT may exert enhanced antidepressant effects compared to the respective monotherapies. Objective: The current naturalistic study aimed to evaluate feasibility and clinical outcome of rTMS thorn PT in a large group of MDD patients. The second aim was to identify clinical predictors of response and remission. Methods: A total of 196 patients with MDD were treated with at least 10 sessions of simultaneous rTMS and PT. rTMS was applied over the DLPFC, either 10 Hz left or 1 Hz right. Psychotherapy was based on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Symptoms were measured using the BDI each fifth session until end of treatment and at 6-month follow-up. Comparisons were made between responders and non-responders, as well as between the 10 Hz and 1 Hz protocol. Additionally, baseline variables and early BDI change were evaluated as predictors of response/remission. Major findings and conclusions: 1) Combining rTMS and PT resulted in a 66% response and a 56% remission rate at the end of treatment with 60% sustained remission at follow-up. Compared to previous findings in RCTs, these rates are relatively high;2) No differences were found between the 10 Hz and 1 Hz TMS regarding clinical outcome;3) Clinical baseline variables were not predictive of treatment outcomes;4) Early symptom improvement (at session 10) was highly predictive of response, and may therefore be used to guide rTMS thorn PT continuation;5) Based on the current findings in a large naturalistic study, future studies employing a more standardized method are warranted to draw solid conclusions on the unique effect of rTMS thorn PT.