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Deep Brain Stimulation as Depression Treatment 273

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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  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> 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 ...

  • Nothing new here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abscissa ( 136568 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:52AM (#15210293)
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:55AM (#15210302)
    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 Naomi_the_butterfly ( 707218 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:30AM (#15210405)
    DBT != ECT
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:58AM (#15210587)
    From the wiki:
    ... curling up in a fetal position, and sometimes even screaming - in order to express childhood, perinatal and prenatal feelings.

    PRENATAL feelings?

    The absence of peer-reviewed outcome studies to substantiate this claim led to the therapy falling out of favor in academic and psychotherapeutic circles. However, much recent research, especially regarding brain functioning (neuroscience) is consistent with the Primal hypothesis, ...

    Do you or does anyone have any links to the research in question?
  • 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)

    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.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:58AM (#15210688) Homepage Journal
    And being ruined morally by lots of Chinese women is bad how?
  • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @05:45AM (#15210773)

    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 people that post here don't give a shit about outside pressures to conform, they just write what they think. Of course, I typically read at +5 and most comments at that level are at the least thought-provoking if not enlightening.

    I saw an interview with Zeldman (Amber from G4, Canada) and the guy came across as a total dork, definitely not TV-pretty. But the guy is brilliant tech-wise. Some would put him down or attack him for being different.

    Show me a fragile mind and I'd be able to do some real damage to it if I felt the need to tear someone else down in order to build myself up. That's typically what cowards do.

    I'm a father and I know damn well that you treat everyone with respect. It's not even a religious thing, it just makes sense to do so.

    On the other hand, some people (almost always males) are insecure, and crapping on others tends to be a learned behaviour. Read whatever psychology you want into that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @06:09AM (#15210821)
    You really shouldn't pick apart people's personal experiences as if you know more about the subject than someone who actually experienced it.

    I had my own bad experiences with Prozac and Effexor. Both made me feel out of control of my life. Both made me irritable, and say really mean things about my friends and family and then wonder why I did it. I was completely out of control, like a permanent belligerence.

    Prozac increased my sex drive. Effexor increased it for a few days, then decreased it full-time and made me not want to even be close to my girlfriend. Not even on the same couch or the same bed. Not emotionally intimate either. Devastated my relationship with her.

    It's not my desire to focus on this stuff anymore, but many of the SSRIs have been linked to suicidal and homicidal teens. Some sites suggest that some tests of the drugs actually increased the rate of suicide. Not the tests that got the drugs approved and made the psychotropic drug industry huge though, of course.

    Take my anecdotal experiences for what they're worth. But don't try to prove someone wrong or treat them like they're lying just for sharing theirs.
  • 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.
  • by BVis ( 267028 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:56AM (#15211045)
    "Snap out of it!" "Man up, Nancy!" "Quit whining!"

    Not an especially constructive method of treatment. It's kind of hard to do that when your brain chemicals won't let you (if your problem is, in fact, organic, which this treatment seems to be targeted towards).
  • 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 those experienced by Stephen King, for instance, can often be coped with, and can be used as a source of strength. But you have to be very careful here. Because of the harm that can be done, I think it is much worse to leave a dangerously depressed person undiagnosed than it is to diagnose someone as dangerously depressed who isn't.
  • by The Snowman ( 116231 ) * on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:58AM (#15211348)

    For crying out loud, call a crisis hotline or a friend next time you feel like harming yourself. You're no good to us unless you're here alive and well.

    Obviously you've never been in a situation like this. There are times when depression can cloud rational thought and even though you may normally be the type of person that would never harm yourself or commit suicide, you do. It just takes a second or two, a bad snap judgment, and you do something you cannot take back.

  • by deuterium ( 96874 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:40AM (#15211597)
    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 the projects I'm doing now if I were depressed.
    As far as emotions, though I did experience deeper emotions during the early phases of my depressions, they were all sadness. The sadness perpetuates itself, like a deepening groove on a record, so that nothing else gets played. All connections to prior emotions wither, and they become only an idea. You forget what it was ever like to feel differently, and lose hope that you ever will.
    Depression is so insidious, too. You can't point to a day when it occurs. It's like the slow buildup of dust on the TV screen, fading out the vibrancy. When it's finally removed, the world stands out in vivid contrast to the dimness. It always amazes me when that happens.
  • by wazzzup ( 172351 ) <astromac@fastm[ ].fm ['ail' in gap]> 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.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments