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DBS for Depression: Still Mixed Results

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a treatment long used for Parkinson’s disease. But in the past decade, some researchers have also examined its use for the treatment of severe clinical depression.

Severe major depression is a serious problem in society, because some studies estimate that up to 30 percent of those who attempt to be treated for it find they have “treatment resistant” depression — that is, traditional treatments simply don’t work very well.

Deep brain stimulation has mixed results. As we reported on back in February, a long-term followup of 20 patients found an average response rate to DBS of 64 percent. Not shabby, but also not the hopeful, guaranteed cure it was once held out to be.

Maiken Scott, the behavioral health reporter for Philadelphia station WHYY, has a story following a handful of patients in a local clinical trial looking into the effectiveness of DBS for depression.

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DBS for Depression: Still Mixed Results

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  1. John – Thanks for this article. I wonder what type of patient responds to RTMS and its success rate.

  2. My sister had DBS for depression almost 2 years ago. Right after surgery she suffered 4 grand mal seizures. She was not responsive for 2 days. She finally woke up. She was like a 54 year old toddler. She was an intelligent person before DBS. She now has memory problems, lacks problem solving skills, has erratic, impulsive behavior, exhibits immaturity, and suffers from colitis along with many other new physical ailments. The depression is still there. One and a half pages of medications continue to be used. The sister that I knew has basically been replaced by a needy, confused person. The DBS study calls her a success. Funny,huh?


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