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Journal of Psychiatric Research



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Depression is a significant health issue with treatment resistance reported in about one third of patients. Treatment resistance results in significant disability, impaired quality of life, and increased healthcare costs. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a treatment option for treatment resistant depression (TRD) with response and remission rates in open-label studies being as high as 58% and 37% respectively. Theta-burst is a faster and novel rTMS paradigm that has shown promise as a treatment for TRD in some preliminary studies. In a naturalistic design, we evaluated the response, remission and tolerability of bilateral sequential (right then left) prefrontal theta-burst rTMS (bsTBS) in 50 patients with TRD (600 pulses/session, 20 sessions, 100% of resting motor threshold (80% if intolerant to 100%, n = 2), F4/F3 of 10-20-20 EEG localization). Data was collected over 36 months from a specialized academic TMS clinic. Patients had multiple-treatment resistance with at least two failed trials of different antidepressants with 20% also having failed electroconvulsive therapy and 66% having received professional therapy. We found a 28% remission rate (HAMD-17 score of ≤7) and a 52% response rate (≥50% reduction in HAMD-17) with a 42% reduction in average HAMD-17 score. The treatment was well tolerated, with muscle contractions, mild pain or discomfort, headache, scalp irritation, and changes to vitals being captured as occasional adverse events with two instances of syncope (0.22% of treatments). This naturalistic study shows that bsTBS is a promising paradigm for a multiple-TRD patient population with approximately one-third of treatments achieving remission and over half achieving significant response.