Brain Pacemaker could alleviate treatment resistant depression

According to a new study that was conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, deep brain stimulation through the use of electrical impulses caused 58 percent of treatment resistant depressed patients move into remission.

Researcher Dr Helen Mayberg and her team inserted a brain pacemaker in the brains of 17 patients each diagnosed with treatment resistant depression . The pacemaker consisted of two very thin wired electrodes; one placed on each side of the brain connected to a electrical pulse generator implanted into the chest of each patient, the pacemaker sent electrical impulses deep into the brain stimulating areas believed to be involved in depression.

The level of electrical stimulation was adjustable so that it could be changed to suit each individual patient and be modified as the severity of depression changed.

The study published in the Online First by Archives of General Psychiatry reported that within the 24 weeks using deep brain stimulation; 41 percent of the patients responded to the treatment, with an astounding 18 percent of participants being regarded as in remission.

At a two year follow up point the results were even more impressive, active stimulation of deep brain tissue had instigated an improvement in symptoms of depression in 92 percent of participants with 58 percent being classified as in remission. It was also noted that patients that had positively responded to the treatment did not experience any spontaneous relapse which has been a problem in treatment resistant depression before.

The researchers now have to undertake the task of discovering why the procedure worked where other treatments have failed as well as develop this into a safe and effective treatment for the disabling condition.

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