10 February, 2022

Guidance published: Transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of depression

Health Technology Wales has published guidance on the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to treat major depression that is treatment resistant.

TMS uses electromagnet coils placed against the head that send repetitive pulses of magnetic energy at fixed frequency to specific areas of the brain. This stimulation can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The treatment can be used for patients with depression that does not respond to antidepressant medication or for whom anti-depressant medication is not suitable.

During its assessment of the treatment HTW looked for evidence of the effectiveness of TMS as an intervention for depression where traditional treatments have failed.

HTW’s Appraisal Panel concluded that rTMS is a safe and clinically effective treatment for treatment-resistant major depression, particularly in the short to medium term. However, it acknowledged the uncertainty about the long-term benefits of rTMS and its potential use as maintenance treatment in patients with severe depression.

The panel also concluded that while the evidence of clinical benefits would support adoption of TMS there is uncertainty around the economic impact of rTMS which requires further clarification.

It recommends that further research is undertaken to establish the long term efficacy of rTMS before adoption of the treatment in Wales can be fully supported.

To read the Guidance in full, click here.