A systematic review of noninvasive brain stimulation for post-stroke depression

A systematic review of noninvasive brain stimulation for post-stroke depression

Article Date: 2018-05-21 (Revised: 2019-01-15)
Authors: Bucur M, Papagno C
PMID Link: 29860185

Journal Information
Title: Journal of affective disorders
Abbreviation: J Affect Disord
Volume: 238
Date: 2018-10-01
Citation: J Affect Disord 2018 10;238:69-78


BACKGROUND: Post-stroke depression (PSD) is among the most frequent neuropsychiatric consequences of stroke, negatively affecting the patient’s functional recovery and the quality of life. While pharmacological therapy has limited efficacy and important side effects, new appropriate treatments based on specific physiological mechanisms for PSD remain to be developed. Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques, modulating brain plasticity, might offer valid, alternative strategies.

METHODS: We systematically searched four databases: MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO and Web of Science, up to December 2017, using definite keywords, to identify studies on TMS and tDCS treatment for PSD.

RESULTS: Seven studies met the inclusion criteria and the results indicate that both tDCS and rTMS are safe and have very low side effects. The reported positive results, suggesting that these methods can be considered effective therapeutic options, are questionable, and a general statement about their efficacy for PSD is premature due to small sample sizes, heterogeneous methodologies, lack of uniform diagnostic criteria, and divergent data.

LIMITATIONS: The selected articles suffer lack of information about quality of life and daily living performance measures; in addition, the number of randomized controlled trials is small.

CONCLUSION (S): The aim of this review was to analyze current research in the clinical use of noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) in PSD treatment in order to verify whether there are alternative perspectives in the treatment of PSD. Given the present evidence, future research is needed to address methodological limitations and evaluate the long-term efficacy of these methods, alone and in combination with pharmacological treatment.

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