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Depression: Brain electrodes appear to work for a long time



Depression: Brain electrodes appear to work for a long time


A new study has suggested that electrodes implanted in the brain can help people with severe and severe depression in the long term, for up to nine years. The study grouped seriously ill people and thanks to this method they cured half of them, a truly excellent result. The 25 study participants used antidepressants, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy.

The patients were now forced into a chair to do nothingthey no longer had a social life and many had tried to commit suicide several times or were thinking of euthanasia. Euthanasia is not legal in all countriesbut in the Netherlands it is only legal if it is thoughtful and if the doctor recognizes that there will be no room for improvement and that the pain is unbearable.

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Depression, brain electrodes can reduce the condition

As part of this new process, participants were implanted with small electrodes, just over a few centimeters large, into the brain with severe depression present. Implanted between 2010 and 2014, the electrodes released impulses that would improve connections within this brain circuit.. Just think for example that these people with depression have greater communication between different areas of the brain and add these electrodes, therefore this noise, can normalize this communication.

Study participants were monitored for ages 6 to 9 and the results suggested that 44% of people significantly benefited from this new treatment with reduced depression by 50%, also experiencing an improvement in lifestyle. They were also able to experiment with new hobbies and even get back to work. Another 28% partially benefited from the treatment, meaning their depression score dropped from 25 to 50%. The remaining 28% had little or no improvement.

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Monitor patients longer on benefits

To verify that those who got better did not simply experience a placebo effect, the study included a 12-week period in which the electrodes were turned off half the time, without the participants knowing when. Their depression scores they then got worse, on average, suggesting that the effects of the treatment are genuine. It is still unclear why some have not benefited from this treatment at all, but one of the possible reasons could be the electrodes not actually stimulating the right parts.

Several other small studies of deep brain stimulation for severe depression have found positive effects, but not all. Trials with positive results tended to monitor participants longer. The team is now conducting a second study to see if they can replicate the results of their first study. If they can show an effect in multiple patients, the ambition is to make this standard treatment more widely available to more patients.

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Image by Talip Özer from Pixabay