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Borrione, Lucas; Moffa, Adriano H.; Martin, Donel; Loo, Colleen K.; Brunoni, Andre R. (2018): Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in the Acute Depressive Episode: A Systematic Review of Current Knowledge. In: Journal of ECT, Vol. 34, No. 3: pp. 153-163
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Abstract

Major depressive disorder is a severe, refractory mental disorder. Only one third of patients treated with antidepressants achieve remission after 3 trials, while subject to adverse effects. Therefore, the investigation of alternative treatments is paramount. The aim of this systematic review was to summarize the most recent evidence of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) intervention for the acute phase of major depressive disorder. A PubMed search was performed including the terms transcranial direct current stimulation OR transcranial direct stimulation OR tDCS AND major depressive disorder OR major depression OR depression AND trial. The search was conducted from inception until February 2018. Our search yielded initially 165 results, and 14 randomized clinical trials were included according to eligibility criteria. Most studies were pilot studies, with mixed findings. Two large randomized clinical trials recently published also presented primary negative findings. Study protocols usually used anodal left/cathodal right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex stimulation, 1 to 2.5 mA, and 5 to 20 tDCS sessions. We discuss the limitations of the included trials, such as sample and tDCS parameters heterogeneity between studies. To conclude, tDCS seems to be safe and devoid of serious adverse effects, although robust efficacy has not been consistently demonstrated in clinical trials assessing an acute treatment course of up to 4 weeks. Further directions are discussed, such as parameter individualization, investigation of biological markers, and home-use tDCS.