Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression
The Deep Brain Stimulation surgery has shown successful results in a majority of patients suffering from advanced stages of the Parkinson’s disease and is now a well-accepted treatment. While this surgery showed major improvements in Parkinson’s disease patients for controlling motor movements and the like, until recent time there was no substantial evidence that the same surgery could be used for patients suffering from depression. However, thanks to medical research on the matter, it has been proved that DBS can be a viable option for treatment resistant depression in patients, especially for unipolar major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar II disorder (BP). And DBS for depression is now being talked about extensively.
Depression is a serious and incapacitating medical illness. While MDD is prone to being resistant to allopathic treatment and slowly immune to medication, bipolar II disorder patients are known to go into a hypo-manic or manic episode state when given antidepressant medications. These aspects make DBS an ideal solution for such patients. Deep Brain Stimulation uses high frequency electrical stimulation to target a specific area of the brain for a particular neuro-psychiatric disorder. While DBS has shown substantial improvement in many patients that undergo surgery for general depression, most studies on the matter have shown mixed results.
Patient selection is crucial to the success of DBS therapy for depression. It is important that the patient be offered surgical evaluation at an appropriate centre which has the expertise of evaluating such patients. At Jaslok hospital, such patients are evaluated by two psychiatrists and a neurosurgeon. They establish if the disease is indeed incurable with medical treatment and the patient has been offered adequate trial of best medical therapies. If they find it appropriate, he is referred to a committee to confirm the findings and only after such stringent evaluation surgery is offered. Remember that even though this surgery may help and show marked improvement in the patient, it may be recommended that the medication and other treatments like counseling, psychotherapy, rehabilitation, etc., be continued even after the surgery. There can be cases where DBS may not be the best option at hand, with such patients the conventional psychiatric or psychologist help with allopathic medication may be the only way for now, until there is another scientific breakthrough that can benefit them.
In view of the fact that DBS for depression is a ray of hope for many, but still not the right treatment for every person caught in the anguish of this disorder, it is important to continue the research and clinical trials on the subject. Many hope that a close understanding of DBS and how it works on the brain can provide researchers with the insight they need to find a cure for depression and other psychopathic diseases.
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