Current Pilot Projects

Accelerated intermittent theta-burst stimulation for postpartum depression: Toward reducing treatment burden to enhance outcomes for new mothers

Anna Ehrhardt, M.D.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common complication of childbirth, affecting 20% of new mothers. PPD can adversely affect maternal-infant bonding, breastfeeding, and child development. Current therapies for PPD have side effects of particular concern for new mothers including the potential for antidepressants to cross over into breast milk or ECT to induce memory impairment. This renders rTMS, a treatment with relatively fewer side effects, a potentially more attractive option. A conventional, FDA-approved TMS treatment course runs for 4-6 weeks with 30 daily appointments, posing a burden to busy new mothers. Accelerated (multiple treatments per day) theta burst rTMS significantly shortens total treatment time and has similar efficacy to conventional rTMS. With this pilot study, we look to determine the feasibility, tolerability, acceptability, and credibility of accelerated rTMS for treating PPD. We will also be estimating preliminary effect size to do a power analysis for a future randomized, sham-controlled trial of accelerated rTMS for treatment of PPD as well as exploring barriers to treatment for new mothers.