Deep Brain Stimulation Treats Depression.

In Brain Circuitry, Brain Science by Brainy Days Ahead

Deep brain stimulation a highly promising approach for people with previously non-treatable depression. Scientists at the Medical Center, at the University of Freiburg conducted the first long-term study of the effects of the therapy, which is based on the high-precision focusing of mild electrical impuses on selected brain regions. The eight test subjects had suffered continuously for three to eleven years from a severe depression that responded neither to drugs nor to psychotherapy or treatments like electroconvulsive therapy. The doctors implanted razor-thin electrodes so that they would stimulate a brain region that is involved in the perception of pleasure, and therefore also is important for motivation and the perceived quality of life. Seven of the eight patients receiving continuous stimulation in the study showed lasting improvements in their symptoms up to the last observation point four years into treatment. The therapy remained equally effective over the entire period. The effect also was lasting, whereas other forms of therapy often lose their effectiveness over the course of time. If an expanded five-year study with 50 patients confirms the effectiveness and safety of the therapy, it can then be registered in Europe and used in patients.