Magnetic Seizure Therapy as Effective as Electroconvulsive Therapy for Treating Depression

Analysis Spotlight

Main despair is among the most typical psychological issues in america, with an estimated 21 million U.S. adults experiencing a depressive episode in 2021. Remedy and remedy are sometimes used to deal with despair, however they don’t work for everybody.

Electroconvulsive remedy (ECT) is one therapy that’s used when individuals haven’t discovered aid from despair signs via different therapies. In ECT, an electrical present is used to induce widespread seizure exercise within the mind. The seizure results in chemical adjustments within the mind that relieve despair signs. Though ECT is efficient at decreasing despair signs, some individuals expertise reminiscence loss after therapy, particularly the lack of reminiscences about their private historical past (known as autobiographical reminiscences). Generally, these reminiscence issues will be extreme.

Magnetic seizure remedy (MST) is a more recent therapy being studied for despair. It has been designed to have all the advantages—and fewer of the reminiscence and cognitive unintended effects—seen with ECT. In MST, a magnetic coil is held in opposition to the scalp. The magnetic coil induces seizures within the mind which might be far more localized and milder than these created throughout ECT.

What did the researchers do?

Sarah H. Lisanby, M.D., Director of the Noninvasive Neuromodulation Unit within the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Department on the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of MST as in comparison with ECT for treating despair signs.

The examine included 73 members between the ages of 18 and 90 who had skilled a significant depressive episode and had been referred for ECT therapy. Contributors had been randomly assigned to obtain ECT (38 members) or MST (35 members) 3 times every week till they achieved remission or till their response to the therapy leveled off.

Model of electric field induced in the brain with MST and ECT. Credit: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY license. 2023 Deng ZD et al. JAMA Psychiatry.

Mannequin of electrical discipline induced within the mind with MST and ECT. Credit score: That is an open entry article distributed below the phrases of the CC-BY license. 2023 Deng ZD et al. JAMA Psychiatry.

Clinicians assessed members for depressive signs at the start of the examine (earlier than therapy), the morning of every therapy session, 24 to 72 hours after every therapy session, and twice per 30 days for two months after therapy ended and as soon as a month thereafter in the course of the examine.

Clinicians additionally measured the cognitive talents of sufferers at the start of the examine and 72 hours after the final therapy session. After every therapy session, members had been requested to fee the presence and severity of attainable unintended effects, comparable to headache, nausea, dry mouth, muscle ache, confusion, and reminiscence issues.

What had been the outcomes of the scientific trial?

Amongst members who accomplished the complete course of therapy (24 for ECT and 29 for MST), 60.4% confirmed a major lower in despair signs, and 43.4% achieved despair remission. When the researchers appeared on the impression of MST and ECT therapy on all members within the examine—those that accomplished some therapy mixed with those that accomplished the complete therapy—they discovered that 46.6% confirmed a major lower in despair signs and 31.5% achieved full despair remission.

Mean severity of subjective adverse effects and percentages of participants experiencing them for ECT and MST. Credit: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. 2023 Deng ZD et al. JAMA Psychiatry.

Imply severity of subjective opposed results and percentages of members experiencing them for ECT and MST. Credit score: That is an open entry article distributed below the phrases of the CC-BY License. 2023 Deng ZD et al. JAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers discovered no important variations in symptom discount or remission between the ECT and MST teams, indicating the therapies had been equally efficient at relieving despair signs. Contributors within the ECT group achieved despair remission barely sooner (between 6 and seven classes) than the MST group (9 classes). The antidepressant good thing about each therapies lasted as much as 6 months after the final therapy session.

Sufferers receiving ECT reported extra extreme complications, nausea, muscle ache, confusion, and disorientation than members receiving MST. Whereas world cognitive perform remained intact for members receiving both therapy, sufferers receiving MST confirmed higher recall and specificity of autobiographical reminiscences and regained cognitive orientation after therapy sooner than members receiving ECT.

What do these findings imply?

The scientific trial discovered that MST is equally efficient at decreasing despair signs as ultrabrief proper unilateral ECT—the most secure type of ECT at the moment out there. MST decreased despair signs for as much as 6 months and had fewer unintended effects than ECT. The improved autobiographical reminiscence efficiency and sooner cognitive orientation seen following MST therapy recommend it supplies a excessive degree of cognitive security for members.

The findings display the promise of MST. Bigger trials are at the moment underway to raised perceive the comparability between MST and ECT and to discover ways to greatest optimize the supply and dosing of MST.


Deng, Z.-D., Luber, B., McClintock, S. M., Weiner, R. D., Husain, M. N., Lisanby, S. H. (2023). Medical outcomes of magnetic seizure remedy vs electroconvulsive remedy for main depressive episode: A randomized scientific trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 


MH087739 , MH002955 , TR001115 

Medical trial


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