Brain electrodes tackle severe depression

From Nature:

Depression Severely depressed patients who do not respond to conventional therapy may be helped by deep brain stimulation (DBS), according to the most-extensive study to date of the experimental procedure. In a clinical trial in Toronto, Canada, 12 out of 20 patients who had stimulating electrodes placed in a brain area called the subcallosal cingulated gyrus showed significant improvement in their depression, with seven of them going into full remission.

The benefits lasted at least a year, according to the results published this week in the journal Biological Psychiatry. Patients in the study had failed to respond to cognitive therapy, antidepressant drugs and electroconvulsant therapy.

The research team published results of DBS on their first six patients in 2005. Four of those patients responded well, and were still showing significant improvement after the trial finished six months later. The new research represents the largest trial on DBS for depression to follow patients for a full year. “It is a remarkable that so many patients got well and stayed well,” says Helen Mayberg, now at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, who helped to develop the therapy.

More here.