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Medicine

Deep Brain Stimulation as Depression Treatment 273

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-something-wrong-with-my-brain dept.
Neopallium writes "Medtronic, today announced its intentions to pursue a major clinical trial of the company's deep brain stimulation (DBS) technology in the treatment of severe and intractable depression, a disabling form of the psychiatric disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. "While not a cure, DBS has allowed these patients to return to much more functional and happy lives," said Dr. Rezai, who represented an international working group of physicians that has been studying the application of DBS therapy in the treatment of intractable depression and OCD in collaboration with Medtronic."
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Deep Brain Stimulation as Depression Treatment

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  • Stimulating (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:38AM (#15210251) Journal
    Now if I could just get some Deep Brain Coffee into me...
    • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:12AM (#15210361) Journal
      I wish it was as simple as that. It would sure beat what I have to do now, which is sprinkle a layer of espresso-grind coffee into my shoes, score the bottoms of my feet with a razor blade, and then tie my shoelaces really tight, so as not to leave a trail of blood after me.

      I think for what you're proposing, you'd need to attach some sort of reservoir for hot water on top of ones head, with a french press type plunger to force the caffeine past the blood/brain barrier [washington.edu].
    • Now if I could just get some Deep Brain Coffee into me...

      Coffee made from brains? Ewwwww!!! =)
  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:40AM (#15210255) Journal

    This could have some rather unexpected negative side-effects. For example, Lincoln was prone to depression - if he had been less melancholic, perhaps he wouldn't have spent so much time brooding over the negative consequences of slavery to the union. Similarly, this could spell the end to a lot of literature ...

    How depressing ...

    • by 0racle (667029) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:49AM (#15210288)
      How depressing ...
      They can fix that now.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Depression is normal. However reoccurring bouts of depression lasting long periods of time which remove your ability to function in everyday life is not normal. That is the difference. Lincoln might have been depressed but he could still function with some normalcy. These people can't.
      • by The Snowman (116231) * on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:53AM (#15211314) Homepage

        Mr. Coward, you are correct. I had depression for a while. I learned quite a bit about what it is and how it works. First, you have so-called normal people. They may get sad and say they are depressed. These bouts may last days, for example, after a traumatic event such as the death of a spouse or parent. That is not real depression. Then there are people like me who were trapped in a bad situation for a long period of time and just couldn't deal with the pressure. That's just a worse case of the first scenario. Finally, there are the truly depressed people. They have a chemical or other imbalance in their brains that causes depression for no reason. Everything could be going well in life, and they just start crying, get into a funk, and can't get out of it. They may snap out of it and be okay for a while. Depression moves in cycles.

        I read an article in one of the IEEE magazines about two months ago on exactly this topic. Essentially, physicians implant an electrode in the patients brain that stimulates the area responsible for depression, so it helps avoid those slumps. It has a similar function to SSRIs, aka Prozac and other drugs that mess around with serotonin, but with few if any side effects. Similar to a pacemaker, a surgeon can implant an electrode and small battery into the patient's head that requires infrequent maintenance (every few years). If this works long-term, I think it will be a very good thing. Many otherwise productive members of society are unable to function at times because of depression. If we can remove that depression, we are stronger as a society, an economy, and most importantly, as a family. I know what depression can do to a family. It isn't pretty.

        Maybe Lincoln was depressed, maybe he was not. I am not an expert on that topic so I won't debate it. However, assuming he was, I think he would have been just as effective without the depression. Those same thoughts and tendancies in his brain would still be there, but he would have been clearer and more rational (not that he was or wasn't already, just more so). I know from experience that the times I was on the up part of my depression cycle I was clearer and more rational, but I still had the same thoughts. I just dealt with them better.

    • You've got to remember that this will probably be used (at least at first) as an alternative treatment of major depression for when traditional (chemical) treatments do not work. It will most likely be used when the illness is debilitating, where the sufferer cannot function. Creating works of art (or performing any task which requires intense concentration) in a depressed state implies that there's a modicum of function. I know of people that cannot even put a single sentence together when they're most
      • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:01AM (#15210591)
        I just hope no one in the trials commits suicide, a common occurrance of people who are just beginning to have their depression lifted.

        That's an interesting turn of events. You feel too depressed to do anything, then you start to come out of it. You still feel really down, but have the motivation to not want to feel like that anymore... yet can't imagine a lasting brighter future without coming back down again.

        So what's the obvious solution when you don't want to live that way, and don't believe you have an alternative? You make a choice to stop living. It seems very reasonable at the time (been close a few times myself).

      • by pipingguy (566974) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:42AM (#15210663) Homepage

        Is there some kind of well-rounded, adequately-functioning, happy-with-life mediocre model that we all should be striving towards becoming?

        I'd like to know what that ideal is and who defines it.

        Sure, there *are* rambling homeless people, depressed people and confused people out there, but hasn't this always been the case? Or is the general consensus that it happens more often now and needs treatment?

        I've known quite a few people that might be considered "a bit off", but as long as they are not hurting others, where's the harm in treating them as eccentrics or oddballs and just accepting them for how they are? Or does everyone have to "fit in" these days? Honest questions.
        • Or does everyone have to "fit in" these days?
          Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.
          Heh.

          Look at todays youth, and their clothing and music taste. Its much more diverse than 60-70 years ago.

          I've known quite a few people that might be considered "a bit off", but as long as they are not hurting others, where's the harm in treating them as eccentrics or oddballs and just accepting them for how they are?
          The problem is when they start hurting themselves. As long as the chance of making their lives a bit be

          • I agree.

            This touches me peripherally. My son is 15, and one of his same-age friends (not a close friend, mind you) hanged himself a few weeks ago. Apparently the boy had been getting picked-on for a long time and one day he snapped. He brought a steel bar to school and cracked a few bullies' heads.

            The parent(s) of the bullies sued the family of the bullied. Now, obviously, this kid already had some problems, but 15 year-olds should not be attending funerals for classmates. That sort of thing just didn't
            • That sort of thing just didn't happen when I was that age 30 years ago.

              Actually, it did, but the world was a smaller place in those days, and it was much less likely to be plastered all over the news, or if it was, it stayed in the local community. People talked about it in hushed tones, if at all, and since court awards were much less than today, there was less incentive for ambulance-chasers to "monetize" the situation.

        • by Masa (74401)
          I've known quite a few people that might be considered "a bit off", but as long as they are not hurting others, where's the harm in treating them as eccentrics or oddballs and just accepting them for how they are? Or does everyone have to "fit in" these days?

          These kind or treatments are not usually designed for curing oddities or eccentric behaviour. Well, not at least at the present time and civilized societies. Not so long time ago things were different. Anyway, these treatments are for helping people
        • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @06:37AM (#15210873) Journal
          Sure, there *are* rambling homeless people, depressed people and confused people out there, but hasn't this always been the case? Or is the general consensus that it happens more often now and needs treatment?

          Your ignorance about the suffering of the mentally ill is quite charming. You might as well as, "Why don't the clinically depressed just cheer up?" Someone undergoing a major and debilitating depression isn't "a bit off" nor are they merely eccentric oddballs.

          I'm sorry if this is a bit harsh; I believe you are sincere and that your questions, as you say, are honest. However, if you are honestly curious about mental illness, you might want to get a college textbook on abnormal psychology and read up on it. You are not going to get much light shone on your ignorance in the comments section of slashdot.

          • I lived for a few decades with someone who thought they were being spied on by the KGB, so I know a little bit about the subject. That was an "interesting" experience, to say the least.

            No need to apologize.
            • That's someone who's suffering from paranoid-delusions. Paranoid delusions isn't severe depression.

              People with incredibly severe depression
              -Hate their life. Suffer all the time because of it. To me, this speaks as reason #1 to do everything possible to treat them.
              -May harm themselves or others. As a result of #1, they generally don't care about anything. The more severe, the less they care.
              -Make incredibly bad decisions (recall that they don't care about anything)

              Milder levels of depression - such as t
        • Is there some kind of well-rounded, adequately-functioning, happy-with-life mediocre model that we all should be striving towards

          I sure wish I could find a well-rounded, adequately-functioning, happy-with-life mediocre model. That's MUCH better than the women I've met recently. But I don't want EVERYONE to strive towards her. Just me.

        • Most depressed, schizophrenic, and confused people don't actually enjoy being way. Shouldn't you let *them* decide if that's how they want to be? While some of them may not be hurting others, it's cruel to say that they should not be allowed treatment to make their lives less miserable and painful. It's not about fitting in, it's about giving people an opportunity to live normal lives if they want it.
        • by wazzzup (172351) <astromac&fastmail,fm> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:06AM (#15211813)
          It's not about fitting in or creating a socially acceptable human being through chemistry. It's about relief from the prison of your mind.

          As someone that suffers from bouts of major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), if the treatment leaves me in a state of being "a bit off" but in a state where I can function in day-to-day society - that's okay.

          Without treatment, I'm prone to lie in bed all day barely able to speak (the depression) while my mind (figureatively) straps me in front of an IMAX screen and makes me visualize horrible things like blowing my brains out over and over again, throwing my son off a cliff, being gang-raped and other lovely sunny-day thoughts (the O in OCD). Obsessive thoughts are completely unwanted (they don't indicate some subconcious desire) thus feeding the depression which, in turn, makes it harder to block the obsessive thoughts. In my case, I wasn't hurting others (except my family who had to watch me go through those episodes) but I was hurting myself.

          While I don't think we should strive for a Stepford Wives kind of norm through medication, the medication is a godsend - not an Orwellian mind-control tactic. While you or someone else may think "so they're odd - leave them alone, it's who they are" it's *not* who they are. Who they are has been dominated and replaced by the condition/disease. I completely understand why someone that has not experienced mental illness might see things in the manner you describe. In fact, most people with mental illness won't tell thier friends or peers about thier condition because of the social stigma that mental illness carries.

          With treatment, sure there are days I'm "a bit off" but that's okay - no one's the wiser.

          I guess what I'm trying to say is that, while "oddballs and eccentrics" might not be hurting anyone, they may, in fact, be hurting intensely within - wishing they could rid themselves of the oddness and eccentricity and become the person they really are. The oddness is just a small part of what surfaces to the outside world. That's not to say that all oddballs and eccentrics are mentally ill either and that's truly just who they are.

          In regards to wondering whether these conditions are more prevalent than they were in the past - yes, based upon my personal research on the topic.

          I hope my personal experience may have answered some of your questions.
        • Wow. You are suggesting that because there always were rambling homeless people, we shouldn't try to stop that?

          Wow.

          More, happier people == societal progress

          Decreasing the number of suicides == societal progress.

          That's not hard to understand.
        • Sure, there *are* rambling homeless people, depressed people and confused people out there, but hasn't this always been the case? Or is the general consensus that it happens more often now and needs treatment?

          There *are* more crazy people on the streets than in previous generations. In the bad old days, the insane were simply warehoused in asylums, or family kept them locked up. Google for "Bedlam" for a description of the worst of these. People really where kept in baskets, hence the term "Basket Case
        • Sure, there are eccentrics and oddballs, and everyone gets sad and down from time to time. However, that's not what we're talking about. People who are severely depressed can't even get out of bed. I think the key is they would rather *not* feel like this -- but if they are severely depressed, soemtimes they feel like they deserve to feel like this, or that there is no hope for anything better, etc.

          In the olden days, that person probably would have been bedridden for their short miserable life. Now we can
    • I read an interesting theory somewhere that depression is just a manifestation of problems with current society, and that by attempting to treat it as an illness all we're doing is papering over the cracks, so to speak, and masking those problems.

      Just a theory, but thought it had some relevance to your post.

      • I read an interesting theory somewhere that depression is just a manifestation of problems with current society, and that by attempting to treat it as an illness all we're doing is papering over the cracks, so to speak, and masking those problems.

        I think that that is a very valid theory, if not actually true. It fits well with many posters here (never before have so many been able to communicate with so many others without being judged by their appearance or feeling peer pressure). As a result, many peo
        • On the other hand, some people (almost always males) are insecure, and crapping on others tends to be a learned behaviour

          I take it you have never spent some time in a group with lots of girls...

          • Sounds like a dream come true!

            But females tend to jockey for position using words. After dominance is established they all tend to get back together and be friends. Words can hurt real bad, but males (doing the same dominance thing) often use violence *and* words.

            A young male that has been effectively emasculated by peers is a dangerous thing.

            Recognizing that, what has to change? Should everyone get touchy-feely, "in harmony with their emotions" or should the picked-upon grow some balls and fight bac
      • Certainly the modern world, our dystopian society, is a major part of all this. But I don't know that a chronically, clinically depressed person would want to wait for society to get fixed as a means of addressing their suffering. At the same time, however, perhaps it would be wise for such a person to at least partially disengage from the more corrosive aspects modern civilization (as we know it).

        I have a friend who contends that the reason that everyone isn't depressed is because they're all delusional. =
    • Depression should never be confused with melancholy or sadness. In fact, some people describe depression as the complete lack of an emotional response.

      Concern, passion, and a troubled soul can embark you on a quest for change. Crossing the line into depression will only help cripple your chances.

      Saying that you are depressed when you what you feel is sadness is like calling evolution "just a theory". Both evolution and depression are very specific scientific terms that have a completely different colloq
      • What they referred to as "melancholy" in Lincoln's day would certainly pass for depression nowadays. That feeling that nothing's worth it, the world is all grey and closing in, getting out of bed is more effort than its worth, that just breathing is a reminder that there's no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel, that you've been there before, and that you'll be there again (how depressing ...), that you have to fight fight fight just to pretend to be having a "good" day, wondering where the las

        • That was a brilliant description, and I agree with your post. I believe that it is very likely that Lincoln was suffering of depression.

          What I was trying to say is that Lincoln did not necessarily get involved in what he did BECAUSE of depression, like the parent comment implied. I believe that depression can do no good, and that great things do not come out of if, but in spite of it.
    • I've actually found that when I'm depressed, my mind is useless. I can't keep a thought in my head, or even comprehend the environment around me. My senses are fuzzy and I feel like a robot. The world actually appears darker and fuzzier. Far from being creative and intelligent, I become blank and mindless. All motivation and drive are gone. I felt like I was dying. I was barely able to keep up with my job when I was depressed, and projects were pretty simple and slow back then. I'd never be able to tackle t
      • Thank you for writing this. My wife has tried many times to try to explain the experience. I don't think anyone who has not suffered it directly, could understand it. There is also the perception that depression is a single experience. From what I have witnesse it is not. There are days that look like dark overwhelming despair. Days of anger and frustration and some days there unexplainable elation and energy. Everyone wants to categorize an experience that is highly personal. I truly hope that this t
    • This really begs the question: Have you ever been depressed?

      Most of the time, when people are truely depressed, they don't do much constructive. Perhaps there are some times where depression may lead to something insightful in art and literature. But to say that it may have prevented Lincoln from doing anything about slavery really shows a lack of understanding of what depression is. If you want to know what Lincoln's thoughts on slavery were when he was depressed, it probably would have been something li

      • This really begs the question: Have you ever been depressed?

        Irrelevant to my point, but since you ask, it sort of "comes with the territory" (PTSD).

        What finally worked for me was dogs. Not 100% effective, but a lot better than losing a decade (the '80s) to a grey funk.

        Its probably made me more left-leaning politically than I would have been otherwise, since the experience gave me insight into just how much we all really are individuals, and how much the external appearance doesn't necessarily mirr


    • For example, Lincoln was prone to depression - if he had been less melancholic, perhaps he wouldn't have spent so much time brooding over the negative consequences of slavery to the union. Similarly, this could spell the end to a lot of literature

      Not that I'm Lincoln (or anywhere near), but I've found I'm actually more productive when off of anti-depressants. Why? Two reasons I believe: 1) the antidepressants made me just not care; I never got even vaguely worried about deadlines, therefore I would tend

  • by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:46AM (#15210279) Homepage
    Well...if my brain is where my wife says it is, I can see this working quite well.
  • Too late.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrPsycho (939714)
    I though Paramount already has the rights to the Mind Meld technique.
  • Nothing new here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abscissa (136568)
    Before modding me down, look into it for yourself... it has been known for a very long time that in the most severe cases of clinical depression, shock therapy is an extremely effective treatement, although it tends to conjure inhumane images in one's head.
    • Electoconvulsive therapy's been used for a long time for treating a variety of mental problems, including depression. This shouldn't have some of the negatives--a friend of mine had ECT done about 15 years back as a last-ditch treatment for severe depression and as a result has a six-month gap in her memory. Plus, the aim of ECT (according to almighty wikipedia) is to induce a grand mal seizure for about a minute. This is definitely not what deep brain stimulation's doing!
    • DBT != ECT
    • Before modding me down, look into it for yourself... it has been known for a very long time that in the most severe cases of clinical depression, shock therapy is an extremely effective treatement, although it tends to conjure inhumane images in one's head.

      What's more interesting is that transcranial magnetic stimulation [psychiatryonline.org] also holds promise as a treatment for depression. TMS works by induction so it's non invasive. However the resolution of these implanted electrodes would be much better.
  • I can get my very own droud.

    I'm so excited.
  • Well, the fact that the government is trying to restrict a technology to make people feel euphoric reminds me of a great dilbert quote from a general sent to destroy dilbert's happiness formula.

    "You're just allowed to /pursue/ happiness, you're not actually allowed to /be/ happy"
  • by Nirvelli (851945)
    What actually is "Deep Brain Stimulation"?
  • by 70Bang (805280) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:24AM (#15210391)


    1. Reading the story and the paper doesn't tell you what Deep Brain Stimulation actually is. What'd you think? Phoebe Buffet was going to climb on and reach deep into your skull and start the massage?

    Fortunately, someone put good wiki material for those of you who didn't already know what it is. To save you the reading, it's a "pacemaker" in your brain.

    2. Shock treatment (as in for the loonies) has been making a comeback for the previous decade or so as an attempt to rebalance those who are severely depressed or those who are Bipolor (or Manic-Depressive) but spend more time on the down side than the up side.

    3. Regardless of the treatment, many seriously believe "fixing" this, particularly the down or depressed side will decrease or neutralize the creative side of those who are exceptionally creative. I know many friends who are careful about the medications they take and insist upon some trial & error not just on the effectiveness axis, but the suppression of creativity. If the latter is lost or decreased, they'd rather do without medication (with or without their physican's knowledge).

    4. If this sounds familiar to you or you think it's a good idea for a book, think of it as a first cousin to one of Ray Bradbury's (existing) books.


    • by Cicero382 (913621) <clancyj@@@tiscali...co...uk> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:22AM (#15210529)
      Right! The glib tone of this post annoys me; I can't let it go by without comment.

      Before I start, both I and my wife suffer from chronic depression (and I'm bipolar). We both lead perfectly normal and happy lives - thanks to medication. So I know what I'm talking about.

      > 2. Shock treatment (as in for the loonies)

      Oh, thank you very much! I haven't had this, but my wife was so desparate that she did. I can't say whether it cured her (I suspect the medication has much more to do with it), but I *can* say that it is a brutal approach. I refused because I was afraid that it would damage my mind (which is a very good one - polymath). It tore her mind to bits! For months after the sessions she was confused, had massive memory loss (and those memories are gone for good) and suffered - possibly more than the depression itself. I think that one could compare it to resetting a computer by throwing a bucket of water over it. Quite possibly, its only effect is to press RESET on the brain and let it rebuild from there.

      > but spend more time on the down side

      Actually, the "up" side is even worse. You can do serious damage to yourself and those around you, mentally, spiritually, financially and even physically. At least when you're "down" you tend to stay put. Not that it's much fun.

      > 3. Regardless of the treatment, many seriously believe "fixing" this, particularly the down or
      > depressed side will decrease or neutralize the creative side of those who are exceptionally
      > creative.

      There is something in this, but it misses the point. People who want to mitigate the effects of the medication for any reason don't have *severe* depression. If you do, you will do ANYTHING to make it stop... and I mean *ANYTHING*. Why do you think sufferers kill themselves? In a way, I'm lucky because my disease started at an early age and built to a crescendo by the time I was 30. If I (or, I suspect, anyone) suffered the full effects in one go I would have looked for the very first way to kill myself - immediately.

      I do suffer some performance hit from the medication, but it's worth it. I once tried to get a boost for an important problem by stopping my medication. Never again!

      If you're a sufferer, don't worry about this. It really is fairly minimal and, as I said, very well worth it. Look at it this way; if you don't have to spend most of your mental energy fighting it, you're more productive anyway and much happier as well. In the course of my treatment, they concentrated on mitigating the symptoms, then hunting round for the correct drug and dosage for everyday life. It works very well.

      Finally, don't be ashamed. I know that there's a lot of stigma attached to depression and OCD but were you ashamed when you had a cold? Of course not! And it's the same thing - a disease. And it can be treated. If you have it, get help NOW! There is no need to suffer. It will take time and patience, but it can work.

      And, finally, finally: Remember you're not alone. Many others know how you feel (me, for example) and love and understanding can go a *long* way (soppy, but true). Where do you think my wife and I met? Yup - the loony bin (*I* am allowed to say it :) 15 years now (happy sigh).

      • Just have to let everyone know, I also met my partner in the 'Psych Ward' of a local hospital.

        It certainly helps when you have someone around who understands why you feel the way you do at times. Although, the reverse is also true if you both forget to take your meds at the same time.... hehe, nasty.

        Anyways, she has just given birth to our first child together (its a girl).

        Hopefully, she wont suffer the same problems as her parents, but if she does... well hopefully we have the understanding to
      • It tore her mind to bits! For months after the sessions she was confused, had massive memory loss (and those memories are gone for good) and suffered - possibly more than the depression itself. I think that one could compare it to resetting a computer by throwing a bucket of water over it. Quite possibly, its only effect is to press RESET on the brain and let it rebuild from there.

        It's sad to hear that. For past two years, my wife has been given ECT several times, but there hasn't been any noticable side
      • This is very interesting.

        However, as most of my knowledge about mental disorders comes from non-authoritative sources there are things that I don't understand.

        Modern medicine is still better at treating symptoms than root causes (I have enough honest MDs in my family to say that).
        So, if a person is feeling "down" a lot of the time and they suspect they have a problem, how would they know if the cause of the problem is chemical?

        Are there tests that can differentiate between chemical "imbalances" and psycholo
    • 1. Reading the story and the paper doesn't tell you what Deep Brain Stimulation actually is. What'd you think? Phoebe Buffet was going to climb on and reach deep into your skull and start the massage?

      In this case, a probe was lowered into the anterior cingulate region of the cerebral cortex (close to the midline, in front of the ears, pretty close to the middle of the cranium). The probe has 2 contacts. They alternately stimulate with electrical pulses at 125 Hz. This rate of stimulation keeps a damper on a
    • by pz (113803) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:50AM (#15212191) Journal
      IIANSDBS (I Am A Neuroscientist Studying Deep Brain Stimulation), and I attended one of the recent workshops that Medtronic had on this very subject where they brought together all of the physicians working on their pre-clinical trial of these devices. It was incredibly cool. Despite my having worked in the field for 6 years now, deep brain stimulation continues to astound me. The meeting covered exactly what you would think it would cover (and no, I'm not going to reveal any trade secrets or violate any NDAs): patient case studies, general results where such conclusions could be drawn, trends and statistics where available.

      First off, deep brain stimulation is not for the feint of heart. They permanently implant an electrode deep in the middle of your head. Actually, two of them. One on each side. This *is* brain surgery. Screwing up is a Big Deal, and, generally, brain surgery has a risk of complication measured at the 5-10 percent level. Then, in addition to these electrodes in your skull, there are wires which come out under your skin and route down to your chest to a permanently implanted stimulator. Actually, two of them. One on each side. This level of surgery is not something to be taken lightly. The target patient population is not people who feel a little down all the time; these are clinically depressed patients who spend the entire day sitting around doing nothing. Their lives are seriously impacted, just as seriously as someone who had a debillitating major physical ailment such as emphysima, heart disease, or a degenerative bone disease.

      Which brings me to the point of this posting, to comment on item 3 of the parent: many seriously believe "fixing" this, particularly the down or depressed side will decrease or neutralize the creative side of those who are exceptionally creative. The patients that this treatment is intended for are so depressed that they have no creative side. They are paralyzed by their depression. They do not function in society. They are barely able to nourish themselves, and, in some cases, require hospitalization or other form of daily care. The parent poster's assertion about this particular treatment is bunk. Brain surgery is not for people who feel down but are able to live halfway decent lives; Brain surgery is for people who are seriously broken. At this meeting, I saw videotapes of patients in the pre-clinical trials, and these are people who are before treatment so fogged by depression that they communicate in single word responses; they often miss appointments with their doctors because they cannot bring themselves to leave the house; they are deeply affected by their condition.

      Please draw your own conclusions about the effectiveness of the treatment by inference from Medtronic's pushing this forward to clinical testing. I, for one, am glad to see it advance.
  • If (Score:3, Funny)

    by Baldrson (78598) * on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:29AM (#15210403) Homepage Journal
    If [pinkfloydonline.com]
    from Atom Heart Mother

    If I were to sleep
    I could dream
    If I were afraid
    I could hide
    If I go insane
    Please don't put your wires in my brain

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:33AM (#15210415) Homepage Journal
    Anthony Burgess, author of the book "A Clockwork Orange" was the artist in residence while I was in the undergraduate program at the Iowa City Writer's Workshop [uiowa.edu] back in 1974. I think he based his book on the work of Jose M.R. Delgado, M.D. published under the book with the damn spooky title: "Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society [amazon.com]".

    I managed to get a copy of the book finally, and discovered wonderful passages such as the following on page 115:

    ESB [electrical stimulation of the brain -- JAB] may evoke more elaborate responses. For example, in one of our patients, electrical stimulation of the rostral part of the internal capsule produced head turning and slow displacement of the body to either side with a well-oriented and apparently normal sequence, as if the patient were looking for something. This stimulation was repeated six times on two different days with comparable results. The interesting fact was that the patient considered the evoked activity spontaneous and always offered a reasonable explanation for it. When asked, "What are you doing?" the answers were, "I am looking for my slippers," "I heard a noise," "I am restless," and "I was looking under the bed." In this case it was difficult to ascertain whether the stimulation had evoked a movement which the patient tried to justify, or if an hallucination had been elicited which subsequently induced the patient to move and to explore the surroundings.

    This passage is eerily reminiscent of a passage from Richard Dawkins' "The Extended Phenotype [amazon.com]" chapter titled "Host Phenotypes of Parasite Genes":

    "Many fascinating examples of parasites manipulating the behavior of their hosts can be given. For nematomorph larvae, who need to break out of their insect hosts and get into water where they live as adults, '...a major difficulty in the parasite's life is the return to water. It is, therefore, of particular interest that the parasite appears to affect the behavior of its host, and "encourages" it to return to water. The mechanism by which this is achieved is obscure, but there are sufficient isolated reports to certify that the parasite does influence its host, and often suicidally for the host... One of the more dramatic reports describes an infected bee flying over a pool and, when about six feet over it, diving straight into the water. Immediately on impact the gordian worm burst out and swam into the water, the maimed bee being left to die' (Croll 1966)."
  • by William Robinson (875390) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:53AM (#15210451)
    Dear Sir,

    Our records indicate that you had been modded as Troll continuously for last 6 months on slashdot. We understand how depressing this can be.

    We can offer you Deep Brain Stmulation to fix the depression and additional free package of Dumb Brain Simulation, to get +5Funny.

    Warm regards

  • Deep Brain Stimulation
    This technique is old [wikipedia.org] :P
  • 1.

    Marvin: I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.
    Trillian: Well, we have something that may take your mind off it.
    Marvin: It won't work, I have an exceptionally large mind.
    Trillian: Yeah, we know.

    2.

    Marvin: I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself into [the ship]'s external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length, and explained my view of the universe to it."
    Ford: And what happened?
    Marvin: It committed suicide.

    3.

    Marvin: The first ten million years were the wo
    • Marvin was plugged directly into the central intelligence core of the Krikkit war computer. Marvin wasn't enjoying the experience and neither was the central intelligence core of the Krikkit war computer.

  • Placebo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Psychotria (953670)
    While I can certainly empathise with those suffering depression (I've been on medication for years) I cannot help but wondering whether the positive benefits of any treatment could be attributed to the placebo effect. I am not saying this out of any disrespect or lack of understanding for the plight of the depressed but, rather, because I know that (for me) depression can be helped just by someone caring. By giving a treatment - any kind of treatment - there is an implied sense of care. Therefore, a reasona
    • Psychologists are well aware of this sort of effect, that's why double-blind experiments are usually pretty revealing in their outcomes. Neither those directly performing the treatment or those receiving it are aware if they're taking the real deal or the placebo. Of course this is lumped in with all the other experiments they do, but in my limited (psych undergrad) experience, the double blinds were usually the most revealing.
  • Primal Therapy [wikipedia.org] is a cure for depression. However, it's a lot of work, and most people are looking for an externally administered way out.

    It's possible to read the book [amazon.com] and do what it says. But that is very scary and only someone with a strong sense of logic is able to guide himself or herself.
  • by TheNoxx (412624) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:11AM (#15210610) Homepage Journal
    I don't know how many slashdotters are familiar with people who've been treated for the more extreme side of clinical depression (I myself suffered from psychotic depression, a little more into the deep end, and will have to be rather vigilant on my mental state to keep from spiralling into it again), but if this works it will be a godsend.

    Most anti-depressants have really, really bad side affects; prozac is by far the best, but it seems to muffle several higher brain functions... not completely silenjce, but more than enough to be noticeable and very frustrating. Zoloft is the fucking devil and is extremely habit forming, not to mention that it destroys your liver and your immune system. Trying to quit Zoloft cold turkey is like trying to do the same with hard drugs, many people become very, very sick and suffer bowel and stomach problems for days. Zoloft can also cause those feelings in people for the entire duration of their medication; I was one of those people. I couldn't get up in the morning when taking Zoloft and not throw up at least once, and feel like I'd contracted anemia for the whole day. One of my dearest friends was medicated with Zoloft (at twice my dosage, which is ridiculous) for OCD and depression; needless to say, her liver has been annihilated. Even after a year of having stopped taking Zoloft, she maintains an acute weakness to food poisoning and alcohol, which was not present beforehand. Watching her try and quit Zoloft was like watching a train wreck. I've heard similar things with other forms of depression medication, but Prozac and Zoloft are the only ones I've been medicated with, and rather heavily.
    • Zoloft is the f*&king devil and is extremely habit forming, not to mention that it destroys your liver and your immune system

      Maybe you aren't trolling, so I'll simply say that not everyone has your experiences - perhaps you could provide linkage instead of flaming anecdotes?

      I *CAN* say that my grandmother - a lifelong depressive - was treated with Zoloft beginning in her late sixties (75 now) and is IMMENSELY better off today because of it. She's a happier, more engaged person who takes MUCH better car

    • But who knows what the side effects of direct electrical stimulation of the pleasure center might be? It could be the ultimate addiction. Happiness by any natural means might become impossible.
  • The first recourse for these people is "medicate you beyond belief" no matter what they say. After all, this article mentions "Based in part on promising (based on paid-for study-results,) study results presented this week at an international neurosurgical meeting, (We presented potentially false information about) Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT), announcing its intentions to pursue a major clinical trial (with or without the FDA's approval {like that even counts,}) of the company's deep brain stimulation (DBS)
    • I'm sorry, I could have sworn that your post implied that the current administration should take the position that the populace should have more information and be less prone to easy manipulation through exploiting their psycological weaknesses?

      If that is the correct interpretation, may I ask: What planet have you been on for the last six years?
  • Spin Doctors? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rsbroad (847149)
    The original Spin Doctor would strap the patient down in a Barber's chair, and have a nurse spin the patient around and around.
    This was touted as a miracle cure for many psyciatric ailments.

    Ice baths.
    Frontal lobotomy.
    Electric shock through the brain.
    Psychiatric drugs.

    Now a pager with a shock prod installed in the brain.

    Isn't this the kind of stuff Evil Scientists(tm) do to their victims?
  • by Cultural Sublimation (884893) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @05:38AM (#15210761)
    On the subject of burnout and depression, you might also want to check a wikibook on the subject: Demystifying Depression [wikibooks.org]. It takes a very mechanicist view on the problem, but the advice therein contained might be of help to those suffering from depression (it helped me, your mileage may vary of course).

    In short, try not to think as depression as something simply psychological, but as a physical illness caused by chronic abuse of the brain. Giving it a chance to rest is the first step towards recovery.

  • by gone.fishing (213219) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:10AM (#15211398) Journal
    I have a teenager that I would like to voulinteer for your trials. I have only one condition, please equip the device with a remote that I can control.
  • Depression is Real (Score:5, Informative)

    by gone.fishing (213219) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:36AM (#15211573) Journal
    Depression is a real condition. Being "depressed" is not the same as suffering from depression. When you are sad and you know you will get over it that is being depressed and is part of the normal human condition. Depression on the other hand is a long dark tunnel, you can not see the light at the end of the tunnel and you hold out no hope that things will get better. It is not a feeling most people would consider normal although people who suffer from it accept it as a normal part of their lives (that is why so many fail to seek help).

    This chronic condition is very serious, it is the number one cause of suicide today. Chronic depression contributes to a whole slew of self-destructive behaviors and is a major contributing factor in alcoholisim, drug abuse, child neglect, and other very serious social ills.

    If life seems dull or you feel trapped inside of a bubble, if you can't find happiness when others around you do, or if you just never have energy, please see a professional (start with your doctor if you do not want to see a "shrink") to see if they can help you break out of the cycle. If you even think you may be depressed, it is time to see someone. If you think of killing yourself to escape it all, please drop everything and make the call right now.

  • ...the same people that just had to recall their defibrillators because they were malfunctioning, and couldn't reproduce the test data adequately?

"It's curtains for you, Mighty Mouse! This gun is so futuristic that even *I* don't know how it works!" -- from Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse

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