Deep brain stimulation can durably improve depression symptoms in people who don’t respond well to other treatments, according to a small study published [October 4] in The American Journal of Psychiatry. The findings, based on up to eight years of data from 28 people wearing brain-stimulating implants, showed that most people receiving the therapy responded well and maintained their improvements over time.
“The bottom line is that if you get better, you stay better,” study coauthor Helen Mayberg, a neurologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who holds a share of an intellectual property patent on the therapy, tells The New York Times. “You don’t lose the effects over time. You wear the device like a pacemaker, and you stay well.”
Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, involves implanting a small neurostimulator into a patient’s brain to send out electrical impulses to specific brain regions.
About one-third of the participants experienced a full remission of symptoms, while half reported a reduction. The team also found no adverse health effects of the device itself, although the surgical procedure to implant it was associated with common surgical complications such as infection in some patients.
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