Brain Pacemaker To Treat Depression
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure where a patient is implanted with a medical device called a "brain pacemaker". What the device does is send electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain.
Treatment resistant movement and affective disorders associated with the brain such as chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, tremor and dystonia. Patients affected have benefited from this procedure providing positive therapeutic results.
A new study shows that DBS can also be used for depression in patients. This procedure can be used with either unipolar major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar ll disorder (BP).
Bipolar spectrum disorder, sometimes referred to as manic-depression, is characterized by bouts of mania or hypomania alternating between episodes of depression. Although people with bipolar ll disorder do not have full manic episodes, depressive episodes are frequent and intense, and there is a high risk of suicide. A major challenge in treating bipolar depression is that many antidepressant medications may cause patients to "switch" into a hypomanic or manic episode.
The pacemaker sends a high-frequency electrical stimulation to a predefined area of the brain specific to the particular neuropsychiatric disorder. It was found that a regular "feed" from the brain pacemaker alleviates the depression in the patient.
The two year study was led by Helen S. Mayberg, MD, professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.
Although the procedure is invasive and most patients would feel a bit hesitant with the procedure, the study showed that when the brain is given constant stimulation, a significant decrease in the patient's episode of depression and an increase in function. The remission and response rates were 18 percent and 41 percent after 24 weeks; 36 percent and 36 percent after one year and 58 percent and 92 percent after two years of active stimulation.