Pilot Study: DBS Helps with Treatment-resistant Depression

By May 1, 2013 July 10th, 2019 Drug Safety

Information collected from a pilot study is showing that deep brain stimulation (DBS) helps six out of seven patients with their treatment-resistant depression. The results of this study are being met by experts with cautious optimism.

With severe depression being a common condition among people worldwide, doctors and researchers are constantly looking for safe ways to treat the patients that will help them avoid the dangerous drugs (like Paxil and Effexor) that are often used. Deep brain stimulation may just prove to be one of those methods. The fact is that with Paxil, Effexor and other antidepressant medications, patients are susceptible to suffer from all sorts of side effects. Some of those side effects include violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as birth defects in babies born to women taking the drugs during pregnancy. The likelihood of patients suffering from these side effects increases when the patient shows a resistance to the drug treatments since doctors will often up the dosage in an effort to get the meds to work. With DBS showing such good results so far, patients with a resistance to treatments may finally get some relief.

When DBS is performed, “an electrode is attached to a pacemaker-like device which delivers small pulses of currents to areas deep within the brain in an effort to help regulate the brain’s own signals that are not functioning properly.”

DBS is approved by the FDA as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, but more testing will have to be done to see how it will work in treating depression.

“Treatment-resistant depression is a horrible disease. It can result in death, and people who live with it often have very difficult lives,” said researchers. “These impressive findings in the medial forebrain bundle must now be replicated in a double-blind fashion, like the study we’re doing with Brodmann Area 25 — that’s the way to prove it.”

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