Are Response Rates of TMS Related To Age?

Are Response Rates of TMS Related To Age?

Those seeking an effective treatment for depression may wonder if TMS is right for them. A common question before beginning treatment is, “Are response rates of TMS related to age?” The answer is: age is not a considerable factor in the response rate of TMS therapy.


According to a 2018 CDC report, during 2013–2016, 8.1% of Americans aged 20 and over had depression in a given 2-week period.  Furthermore, the CDC notes, rates of depression did not differ statistically across age groups. Depression is equally as prevalent in younger adults as it is amongst senior citizens.


In all stages of life, those struggling with depression experience symptoms such as pervasive sadness, fatigue, insomnia, poor concentration, inability to enjoy activities, appetite changes, irritability, and restlessness. The biological and physiological causes of depression also remain steadfast across age demographics.


The good news is that depression is treatable—including with TMS–at any age. A 2016 article that examined data from eleven different studies demonstrated that over 46 percent of people respond to TMS and concluded that clinical and demographic variables do not “exert a sufficiently strong influence on response rates to warrant using these criteria to exclude patients from treatment.”


Age and TMS Response

Clinical trials have demonstrated that age does not have a significant bearing on the efficacy of TMS therapy. A 2013 study conducted in a clinical setting over the course of three months found that TMS is effective “independent of patient age.”


This study’s participants were evaluated using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory at baseline, after three weeks of treatment, and then one and three months following the final TMS session. The study divided its cohort into two groups: one over sixty-five years old and one under sixty-five years old. The antidepressant effect of TMS therapy observed in both groups did not differ at the conclusion of treatment or at the follow-up evaluations. A comparable number of responders to TMS treatment were found in both groups; the study found “no evidence of age affecting the outcome at three months after the last session.” Additionally, the treatment was observed to have “a significant effect over time.”


TMS For Treatment-Resistant Depression Across Age

Another recent study found that the effectiveness of TMS for alleviating treatment-resistant depression is not differentially modified by age. Participants were broken up into two groups: one group consisted of individuals over the age of 60 and the other consisted of individuals under the age of 60. Both groups completed an acute course of outpatient TMS therapy at two outpatient clinics and performed self-report depression scales before and after treatment.


The study compared changes in continuous measures and categorical outcomes for older and younger participants. Data demonstrated that both age groups exhibited significant improvements in depression symptoms. There was not a discrepancy in response and remission rates between age groups. Overall, the study concluded that “age group was not a significant predictor of change in depression severity, nor of clinical response or remission, in a model controlling for other predictors.”


Responses In Elderly Patients

Another 2013 study measured the safety and effectiveness of TMS in elderly depressed patients. The study treated sixty-five depressed seniors with TMS therapy six days per week over the course of three weeks. Depression was measured using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale prior to and following treatment. The study defined response to TMS as a fifty percent decrease in a patient’s Hamilton Depression Rating score and patients with scores of less than eight were defined as being in remission.


The group’s average Hamilton Depression Rating score shrank from 21.94 ± 5.12 prior to TMS therapy to 11.28 ± 4.56 after the course of therapy ended. After treatment, nearly sixty percent of participants showed a serious improvement in mood, as evidenced by a decrease of nearly fifty percent in their Hamilton Depression Rating scores.


Almost a third of patients in the study achieved remission, while over forty percent attained a partial response. No participants demonstrated an increased Hamilton Depression Rating score at the end of the study and no serious adverse effects were observed. In short, this study added to a growing body of support for TMS as a safe and effective antidepressant treatment for adults over the age of sixty.


Mid City TMS Can Help At Any Age

If you are suffering from depression, Mid City TMS is here to help. TMS is a safe and proven treatment for depression that is effective for patients of all ages. TMS is also covered by Medicare.  At Mid City TMS, we will work with you and your other healthcare providers to make sure you get the treatment you need. Contact us today to see if TMS therapy is right for you.

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