Neurologist Helen Mayberg at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, followed ten patients with major depressive disorder and seven with bipolar disorder, or manic depression, after an electrode device was implanted in the subcallosal cingulate white matter of their brains and the area continuously stimulated.Very promising, but it treatments that look great in small, initial studies often turn out to be less effective when applied on a large scale.
Deep-brain stimulation involves implanting an electrode in a patient's brain, to allow continuous electrical stimulation. All but one of twelve patients who reached the two-year point in the study had completely shed their depression or had only mild symptoms.
For psychiatrists accustomed to seeing severely depressed patients fail to respond — or fail to maintain a response — to antidepressant or cognitive therapy, these results seem near miraculous. . . .
DBS is hardly a quick fix for depression though. Not only does it involve invasive brain surgery, but recovery is usually slow. “In our study we found that many patients didn’t get well at all in the first months — but then they started to respond after a year or more of stimulation,” says Mayberg. It’s also not a cure, she notes, as patients quickly reverted to full-blown depression if stimulation of their electrodes was discontinued.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Controlling Depression with Implanted Electrodes