NeuroStar TMS Therapy, a non-pharmacologic treatment, demonstrated positive results for women with postpartum depression. Findings from the study were presented at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2016 Annual Meeting. 

Pharmacotherapy is typically recommended to treat symptoms of postpartum depression but many new mothers are concerned with taking antidepressants during this period.  NeuroStar TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) Therapy initially received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 for the use in adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) who have failed to receive satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication in the current episode. It works by stimulating areas in the brain that are underactive in patients with severe depression. It produces and delivers brief duration, rapidly alternating (pulsed) magnetic fields to induce electrical currents in localized regions of the cerebral cortex. 

The study included 19 medication-free outpatients with unipolar non-psychotic MDD with postpartum onset. Study patients had moderate to severe symptom severity with an onset of MDD symptoms during the 3rd trimester through 6 months following live childbirth. They were enrolled within 9 months after childbirth and received open-label NeuroStar TMS Therapy for 4–8 weeks until remission of symptoms. 

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The study’s primary outcome was the change in depressive symptoms as measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS); the secondary outcome measurement was patient-reported remission on the EPDS. 

The mean EPDS score of 20.6 at baseline reduced to a mean acute treatment score of 8.2 by the end of the study. The majority of patients (14 of 19) achieved remission of symptoms during acute treatment. No serious adverse events, treatment-emergent mania or suicidal ideation were reported.  

David Brock, MD, Medical Director of Neuronetics, Inc., said, “The positive results from this study expand the evidence of potentially useful new approaches and suggest that NeuroStar TMS Therapy may provide a therapeutic option to mothers experiencing postpartum depression without the use of antidepressant medication.”

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