Electrical and magnetic brain stimulation techniques present distinct mechanisms and efficacy in the acute treatment of depression. This was an umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of brain stimulation techniques for managing acute major depressive episodes. A systematic review was performed in the PubMed/MEDLINE databases from inception until March 2020. We included the English language meta-analysis with the most randomized controlled trials on the effects of any brain stimulation technique vs. control in adults with an acute depressive episode. Continuous and dichotomous outcomes were assessed. A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews-2 was applied and the credibility of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation framework. Seven meta-analyses were included (5,615 patients), providing evidence for different modalities of brain stimulation techniques. Three meta-analyses were evaluated as having high methodological quality, three as moderate, and one as low. The highest quality of evidence was found for high frequency-repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation, and bilateral rTMS. There is strong clinical research evidence to guide future clinical use of some techniques. Our results confirm the heterogeneity of the effects across these techniques, indicating that different mechanisms of action lead to different efficacy profiles.
Razza, L. B., Afonso dos Santos, L., Borrione, L., Bellini, H., Branco, L. C., Cretaz, E., … Brunoni, A. R. (2021). Appraising the effectiveness of electrical and magnetic brain stimulation techniques in acute major depressive episodes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, 43(5), 514–524. https://doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2020-1169