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Deep Brain Stimulation Found Effective for Severe Depression

Last Updated: January 06, 2012.

Deep brain stimulation has been shown to be a safe and effective intervention for treatment-resistant depression in patients with major depressive disorder or bipolar II disorder, according to a study published online Jan. 2 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Deep brain stimulation has been shown to be a safe and effective intervention for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar II (BP) disorder, according to a study published online Jan. 2 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Paul E. Holtzheimer, M.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues evaluated the efficacy and safety of subcallosal cingulate (SCC) deep brain stimulation, using high-frequency electrical stimulation in treatment-resistant depression. Following a four-week lead-in sham stimulation period, men and women aged 18 to 70 years received active stimulation of the SCC for 24 weeks. Primary outcome measures included change in depression severity and functioning over time as well as response and remission rates at 24 weeks, one year, and two years.

The researchers found that chronic stimulation of the SCC led to an effective and sustained antidepressant response. Response rates were 41 percent at 24 weeks, 36 percent at one year, and 92 percent at two years, while remission rates were 18 percent at 24 weeks, 36 percent at one year, and 58 percent at two years. Efficacy rates were similar between patients with MDD and BP disorder, and no patient in remission experienced a spontaneous relapse.

"Taken together, these results support the long-term safety and antidepressant efficacy of SCC deep brain stimulation for TRD, building on previous reports of long-term efficacy in MDD subjects. Unique to this study was the demonstration of comparable antidepressant efficacy in BP patients, with no manic or hypomanic episodes associated with stimulation or parameter adjustments," the authors write.

Devices used in the study were donated by Advanced Neuromodulation Systems/St. Jude Medical Neuromodulation. Several authors disclosed receiving consulting fees from St. Jude Medical Neuromodulation.

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