Brain pacemaker offers hope in depression treatment

"On the first day after the surgery, I started to feel that negative mood disappear"

3 mins read
Some scientists say the treatment of depression with DBS is not yet far enough along (AP)

American scientists aim to use a brain battery to treat depression.

Researchers want to apply a treatment known as deep brain stimulation (DBS) to severe cases of depression. DBS is a type of implant consisting of electrodes placed inside the skull to send electricity to specific areas of the brain.

DBS is already used to treat Parkinson’s and epilepsy. According to US-based news agency AP, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accelerated the review and approval process for the method to be used in patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression (TDD).

The Mount Sinai Center for Neuromodulation in New York is conducting studies to observe the effects of DBS treatment on TDD.

Emily Hollenbeck, who suffered from TDD for many years, is one of the people who tried DBS in this program for treatment.

Hollenbeck said that he had tried many medications as well as electroshock therapy and that there was no lasting improvement in any way, and that he decided to try DBS on the advice of a doctor.

Dr. Brian Kopell, who performed the surgery, placed the electrodes in the cingulate cortex, the part of the brain located just above the corpus callosum, a network of nerves that allows information to communicate between the two hemispheres of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for regulating emotions.

Kopell pointed out that while electrical activity is normally distributed to all areas of the brain without any obstacles, in depression this current is trapped in the “emotional circuitry” of the brain. The surgeon reported that DBS removes this blockage and restores the brain’s electrical activity to its normal state.

Hollenbeck stated that he started to see the positive effects in a short time after the surgery and said, “On the first day after the surgery, I started to feel that negative mood and heaviness disappeared.”

He also said that the development that made him happiest was that he enjoyed listening to music again.

Hollenbeck’s psychiatrist, Dr. Martijn Figee, said: “He told me that he could really taste Vietnamese food for the first time in years. He also started to decorate his house, which has been completely empty since he moved to New York.”

Dr. Katherine Scangos from the University of California pointed out that studies on TDD treatment with DBS have been conducted for 20 years and said, “Rapid progress is being made in the field. I think FDA approval will come in a short time.”

Source : AP,  Washington Post

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