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.
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.
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.
Keywords: Biological clock; Circadian rhythms; Cryptochrome; Depression; MDD; PEMF; TMS; Weak electromagnetic fields; tPEMF.
van Belkum SM, Bosker FJ, Kortekaas R, Beersma DG, Schoevers RA. Treatment of depression with low-strength transcranial pulsed electromagnetic fields: A mechanistic point of view. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 3;71:137-43. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2016.07.006. Epub 2016 Jul 21. PMID: 27449361.