The aim of this study is to elucidate the role of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for treating depression during pregnancy. The treatment of depression in pregnant women poses a number of therapeutic challenges. Psychotherapy can be beneficial but is associated with limited availability and possibly an onset of effect which may be too long to be acceptable. Pharmacotherapy is limited by concerns of fetotoxicity, both real and possibly exaggerated in the view of patients and caregivers alike. While efficacy and safety of rTMS are well established for the treatment of depression, the available data for use in pregnancy is still sparse. We reviewed the available literature on the topic on PubMed. In addition to a number of case reports, three studies concerning the treatment of depressed pregnant women with rTMS are available. According to the data, rTMS seems to be safe for both the pregnant woman and her unborn offspring. No obstetric complications or adverse postnatal effects on development have been reported. rTMS alleviated depressive symptoms better than sham treatment in one study. rTMS seems to be safe and effective in treating depression in pregnant women. Further studies with larger numbers of participants are warranted to further clarify the significance of rTMS for the treatment of depression in pregnancy.
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Hebel, T., Schecklmann, M. & Langguth, B. Transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of depression during pregnancy: a review. Arch Womens Ment Health 23, 469–478 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-019-01004-z
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation