TMS for Multiple Sclerosis: Can It Help Treat Depressive Symptoms?

In a quantitative study, researchers assessed the efficacy of TMS on depressive symptoms in people with MS.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may effectively treat depressive symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to preliminary data presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) held from June 1-4, in National Harbor, Maryland.

Researchers conducted a quantitative study to assess the efficacy of TMS in treating depressive symptoms for 20 people diagnosed with MS.

The age of the study participants ranged from 33 to 68 years, and the cohort was predominantly female (70%). Most patients had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) (n=13) followed by primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) (n=4), and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) (n=3). The patients scored an average of 4.6±1.9 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) with scores ranging from 0 to 6.5. Length of time since the diagnosis of MS ranged from 1 year to 24 years, averaging 10.0±7.2 years.

The patients received 10 treatment sessions on 10 consecutive working days. The researchers used TMS to apply 30 trains with 50 pulses per train to the primary motor cortex at 20 second intervals and 40 trains with 50 pulses per train to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at 20 second intervals.

The researchers analyzed the change in depressive symptoms by administering the Beck Depression Inventory and examining each patient at baseline and at the end of each session. Of the 20 patients in the study, 30% presented with depression at baseline.

Following the 10 treatments with TMS, 5 of the 6 (83.3%) patients who initially presented with depression reported improvement in their symptoms. After examining the entire cohort, 13 out of the 20 (65%) patients reported improvement in depressive symptoms as evidenced by improvement of their Beck Depression Inventory scores.

“Multiple sclerosis…causes several physical and mental symptoms, with depression being a frequent symptom,” the researchers concluded. “This preliminary study suggests that TMS has potential for treating depression in people with MS.”


Bando MO, Dias AE, Telles JAR, et al. Effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation on depressive symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis. Presented at: CMSC 2022 Annual Meeting; June 1-4, 2022; National Harbor, Maryland. Abstract MDC04.