Last updated on May 2020

rTMS for Peripartum Depression


Brief description of study

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a neuromodulatory technique that is effective in major depression. There is preliminary evidence suggesting that rTMS is effective in peripartum depression as well, however this comes from a number of very small studies.

The objective is to study the effectiveness of rTMS in peripartum depression. The investigators will do so using an open label design in which participants will receive rTMS for four weeks. The focus is on clinical improvement in depressive symptoms; however the investigators will also look at other aspects such as perinatal anxiety and maternal-infant bonding as measured by self-report questionnaires.

Detailed Study Description

Peripartum Depression (PPD) is common and severely disabling. Pharmacological intervention remains the first line of treatment, however many patients do not experience any benefits from them. Furthermore, many women are hesitant about pharmaceutical interventions due to the unknown effects on foetal health and lactation. Hence novel treatment approaches are required for such patients. Neuromodulation techniques involve selective targeting of brain areas which are promising avenues for such depressed patients.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is an investigational and therapeutic modality that impacts neurons by delivering patterned energy safely and noninvasively. In response to this patterned energy, neurons fire, and adapt by changing their connection strengths. This change in connection strength is believed to be the underlying mechanism whereby rTMS has therapeutic benefit in conditions such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). There are preliminary evidences suggesting that it is effective in PPD as well, however this comes from a number of very small studies and is therefore unclear.

Given the promising preliminary evidence, the investigators propose to study the effectiveness of intermittent Theta-Burst Stimulation rTMS (iTBS) to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in treating PPD. Participants with PPD will receive iTBS rTMS for four weeks (20 sessions) in an open label manner. The primary measure will be clinical improvement in depressive symptoms as measured by change in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) with iTBS-rTMS. In addition, the investigators will look at other aspects such as peripartum anxiety and maternal attachment during treatment and 8 weeks postpartum.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03949465

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Recruitment Status: Open


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