Treatment of depression with low-strength transcranial pulsed electromagnetic fields: A mechanistic point of view

S. M. van Belkum*, F. J. Bosker, R. Kortekaas, D. G. M. Beersma, R. A. Schoevers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Mood disorders constitute a high burden for both patients and society. Notwithstanding the large arsenal of available treatment options, a considerable group of patients does not remit on current antidepressant treatment. There is an urgent need to develop alternative treatment strategies. Recently, low-strength transcranial pulsed electromagnetic field (tPEMF) stimulation has been purported as a promising strategy for such treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The mode of action of this new technique is however largely unknown.

Methods: We searched PubMed for literature reports on the effects of tPEMF and for information regarding its working mechanism and biological substrate.

Results: Most studies more or less connect with the major hypotheses of depression and concern the effects of tPEMF on brain metabolism, neuronal connectivity, brain plasticity, and the immune system. Relatively few-studies paid attention to the possible chronobiologic effects of electromagnetic fields.

Limitations: We reviewed the literature of a new and still developing field. Some of the reports involved translational studies, which inevitably limits the reach of the conclusions.

Conclusion: Weak magnetic fields influence divergent neurobiological processes. The antidepressant effect of tPEMF may be specifically attributable to its effects on local brain activity and connectivity. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry
Volume71
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3-Nov-2016

Keywords

  • Depression
  • MDD
  • Biological clock
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Cryptochrome
  • TMS
  • PEMF
  • tPEMF
  • Weak electromagnetic fields
  • BRAIN GLUCOSE-METABOLISM
  • DIRECT-CURRENT STIMULATION
  • SEASONAL AFFECTIVE-DISORDER
  • CONTROLLED CLINICAL-TRIAL
  • MAGNETIC STIMULATION
  • MAJOR DEPRESSION
  • NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR
  • MOOD DISORDERS
  • RESISTANT DEPRESSION
  • CIRCADIAN-RHYTHMS

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