Time-course of the tDCS antidepressant effect: An individual participant data meta-analysis

Nikolin et al., 2023. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry.

  • A meta-analysis of ten randomised controlled trials of tDCS in depression.
  • Data from 576 participants were analysed (tDCS: n = 311; sham: n = 265), of which 468 were unipolar, and 108 had bipolar disorder.
  • The analysis showed that tDCS is effective for depressive symptoms in both unipolar and bipolar depressive disorders.
  • tDCS effect sizes reached a peak at approximately 6 weeks and continued to diverge from sham up to 10 weeks.
  • Significant predictors associated with worse response included higher baseline depression severity and treatment resistance. Predictors associated with better response included bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.
  • Compared to unipolar depression, participants with bipolar disorder may require additional maintenance sessions to prevent rapid relapse.
  • The findings suggest that longer treatment courses, lasting at least 6 weeks, may be indicated.

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