Efficacy of neurostimulation across mental disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis of 208 randomized controlled trials

Hyde et al, 2022. Molecular Psychiatry.

  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of 208 randomized sham-controlled trials using TMS and/or tDCS to treat children and/or adults with a primary diagnosis of a mental health condition using standardized diagnostic criteria.
  • The majority investigated patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar disorder (n = 99), and schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (n = 59), followed by obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD, n = 27), substance use disorder (SUD, n = 10), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD, n = 8), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD, n = 5), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, n = 2), and tourettes/tic disorders (n = 2).
  • Change in core symptom severity in each mental disorder was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes were score changes in standard cognitive functioning tasks.
  • Regarding tDCS, active stimulation was significantly better than sham for symptoms of depression, SUD (substance use disorder), total, negative symptoms and auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia; but not for symptoms of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and overall positive symptoms in schizophrenia.
  • Notably, effect sizes for tDCS overall depression symptom improvement were higher than those reported in previous studies, and are comparable to those recently reported for psycho- and pharmacotherapies.


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