Magnetic Seizure Therapy Improves Mood in Refractory Major Depression

Markus Kosel, Caroline Frick, Sarah H. Lisanby, Hans Ulrich Fisch, Thomas E. Schlaepfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


This report describes the successful treatment of a patient suffering from an episode of drug-resistant major depression using magnetic seizure therapy (MST). The patient suffered from recurrent major depression since adolescence. MST is a novel brain stimulation method using transcranial magnetic stimulation at convulsive parameters in order to induce therapeutic seizures under general anesthesia in the same setting used for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The first use of therapeutic magnetic seizure induction in a psychiatric patient took place at the University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in May 2000. Results of a recent randomized, within-subject, double-masked trial comparing ECT and MST in 10 patients indicate that MST appears to have less subjective and objective side effects, is associated with faster recovery of orientation, and is superior to ECT on measures of attention, retrograde amnesia, and category fluency. ECT has an unparalleled and well-documented efficacy in severe depression but is associated with cognitive side effects. MST is currently under study in several centers with respect to its antidepressant efficacy. We report here on the treatment of a patient with refractory major depression (DSM IV-R), who underwent a series of 12 sessions of MST in an inpatient setting. Baseline Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HRSD-21) of 33 and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) of 40 decreased to 6 and 11 respectively, 1 week after completion of the MST trial. Measures of cognitive functions support the hypothesis that MST is associated with a less severe profile of cognitive side effects. [99mTc]-HMPAO SPECT studies (baseline and 4 days after the completion of the MST trial) point to a raise of blood flow at baseline in the left fronto-parietal region and the brainstem. Our preliminary data support the prospect of antidepressant efficacy of MST and point to a benign cognitive side-effect profile in a patient suffering from severe treatment-resistant major depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2045-2048
Number of pages4
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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