02/05/2010 - News

Brain Stimulation Effective for Post-Traumatic Stress

By: June Chen, MD


Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to an ordeal, such as war, a natural disease, or a violent assault, in which serious physical harm was threatened or occurred. The main treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder is psychotherapy. However, according to an online report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, non-invasive brain stimulation is effective for relieving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

A type of non-invasive brain stimulation called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has emerged as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. To further investigate the efficacy of rTMS, a group of Brazilian and American researchers studied 30 patients with post-traumatic stress disorder in order to evaluate the effect of non-invasive brain stimulation on the main symptoms of post-traumatic stress, including vigilance, flashbacks, anxiety, and depression. They found that patients who received 10 sessions of rTMS over a two-week period had significantly decreased post-traumatic stress symptoms. There seemed to be some differences in the effects of rTMS depending on which side of the brain was stimulated. Patients who underwent right rTMS had significantly less anxiety, while patients who underwent left rTMS experienced significantly improved mood.

Perhaps the most compelling finding of this study was that the effects of rTMS were long-lasting, with patients reporting improvements in their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder three months after brain stimulation. And, neuropsychological evaluation showed that rTMS was safe for use in patients with post-traumatic stress. So, it seems that, for those who are plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder, non-invasive brain stimulation may be an effective and safe way to relieve symptoms.



J Clin Psychiatry, published online ahead of print.


Created on: 02/05/2010
Reviewed on: 02/05/2010

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