Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and the presence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. While the symptoms of ASD are present from early childhood, there has been an increase in the number of adults with ASD in recent years who visit healthcare professionals to seek the treatment of depression due to maladjustment resulting from the core symptoms and are eventually diagnosed with ASD. Currently, no treatment is available for the core symptoms of ASD, and pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy are often provided mainly for secondary disorders such as depression and anxiety. However, the effectiveness of these therapies is often limited in individuals with ASD compared to those with major depression. In this context, neuromodulation therapies such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have gained increasing attention as potential treatments. In this case series, we retrospectively analyzed 18 cases with ASD from the TMS registry data who had failed to improve depressive symptoms with pharmacotherapy and were treated with intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) therapy to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). We also explored the relationship between treatment efficacy and clinical epidemiological profile. Our results indicated that, despite the limitations of an open-label preliminary case series, TMS therapy in the form of iTBS may have some beneficial therapeutic effects on depressive symptoms in individuals with ASD. The present findings warrant further validation through randomized, sham-controlled trials with larger sample sizes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas