A Canadian study has found that severe depression can be successfully treated by deep brain stimulation in patients who have shown extreme resistance to other treatments.
The study was carried out in three different research facilities and involved implanting a deep brain stimulation implant in the brains of 21 patients who had on average suffered from depression for the last two decades and were using more than 16 medications.
The implant was placed in a region of the brain known as Brodmann Area 25, which is thought to regulate sleep, appetite, mood, anxiety, memory formation and self-esteem. At the end of one year, the researchers found that more than 60 percent of the volunteers showed 40 percent reduction in depression symptoms while 29 percent said that their symptoms were cut in half.
Stating that the Libra DBS implant showed much promise, lead researcher Dr Andres Lozano of the Toronto Western Hospital said, "The reduction in depression scores is clinically significant as these patients had previously tried multiple medications, psychotherapy and/or electroconvulsive therapy without success. To see 62 percent of the patients in this study respond at one year gives us hope that this research may lead to a therapy for this hard-to-treat patient population."