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Deep Brain Stimulation

New Treatment May Help the Treatment-Resistant

For those who do not respond to currently existing depression therapies, such as medication, psychotherapy or electroconvulsive therapy, depression can be a painful and disabling disorder. A team of researchers out of Emory University School of Medicine may have found an answer for these treatment-resistant patients with a new therapy called deep brain stimulation.

Deep brain stimulation is based upon the observation that a region of the brain called Brodmann area 25 is metabolically overactive in treatment-resistant depression. Researchers studied whether a chronic deep brain stimulation to modulate this activity could help patients with treatment-resistant depression.

What the researchers found was that deep brain stimulation was associated with a "striking and sustained" remission of depression in four of the six patients they studied.

The six study participants had been suffering from depression anywhere between 1.5 to 10 years and were considered to be treatment-resistant.

Among the effects patients reported were sudden calmness, heightened awareness and increased interest.

They also exhibited increased motor speed and higher rates of spontaneous speach.

After two months of treatment, five of the six patients exhibited decreases in their depression scores of at least 50 percent. At the six month point, four continued to have an antidepressant response.

The researchers concluded that, although the study was limited in scope and length, deep brain stimulation "may represent an effective, novel intervention for severely disabled patients with treatment-resistant depression."


Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression
Neuron, Volume 45, Issue 5, 3 March 2005, Pages 651-660
Helen S. Mayberg, Andres M. Lozano, Valerie Voon, Heather E. McNeely, David Seminowicz, Clement Hamani, Jason M. Schwalb and Sidney H. Kennedy.

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