TMS more cost-effective treatment for major depressive disorder, study finds

February 6, 2018 by neurocare group

Researchers compare cost of TMS treatment with antidepressant medication, factoring in financial costs and quality of life.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS or just ‘TMS’) can be an effective and non-invasive way to help people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), with long-term effects typically noticed in an average of 25 sessions and high efficacy when delivered together with Psychotherapy. Whilst health insurance providers in countries like The Netherlands and the United States offer reimbursement for the therapy, patients in most other countries need to consider intensive up-front cost of TMS treatment, with therapy sessions required at least two times per week.

A recent study has now compared the overall cost of TMS treatment with standard pharmacological interventions for the disorder (i.e. antidepressant medications), taking into consideration direct financial cost as well as “Quality Adjusted Life Years” (QALYs). Given current costs of treatment, the findings show that TMS is more cost-effective over the life-span of adults with MDD, compared to antidepressant medication trials.

Cost of TMS is found to be more effective as compared to traditional medication management
Studies show that a patient is more liekly to sustain benefit of TMS treatment, or achieve complete remission, when this technique is combined with a form of ‘talk-therapy’ (Donse et al. 2017)

However, in many countries TMS is usually only recommended for patients after having failed several antidepressant medication trials. These findings therefore support TMS being a recommended earlier in a patient’s treatment journey, given it is found to be more cost effective than standard pharmacological interventions for MDD.

 Source: Voigt, Carpenter & Leuchter (2017)

“Cost effectiveness analysis comparing repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to antidepressant medications after a first treatment failure for major depressive disorder in newly diagnosed patients – A lifetime analysis”

In this study rTMS is found to be more cost-effective as a therapy compared to antidepressant medication trials over the life of the patient across the lifespan of adults with Major Depressive Disorder. 

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