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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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  • Re:Stimulating (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:50AM (#15210292)
    Deep brain stimulation has been proven effective in treating Parkinson's patients.

    Interestingly, the caffeine dose equivalent to about 5 (five) cups of coffee per day has been shown to be effective in preventing Parkinson's.
  • by ectospasm ( 5186 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:00AM (#15210318) Homepage Journal
    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 depressed.

    As someone with bipolar disorder, I welcome any further additions to the repertoire of weapons we have against serious depression. I just hope no one in the trials commits suicide, a common occurrance of people who are just beginning to have their depression lifted.
  • by Unlikely_Hero ( 900172 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:02AM (#15210324)
    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 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:06AM (#15210343)
    What actually is "Deep Brain Stimulation"?
  • 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)."
  • Quirks and Quarks (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:52AM (#15210450)
    This has been featured in an episode of Quirks and Quarks (a radio show/podcast) last January. Click on the link for details [www.cbc.ca].
  • Placebo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:17AM (#15210516)
    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 reasonable hypothesis may be that any "treatment" may be effective.

    There are obviously people around who do not respond to any kind of treatment, and I sincerely hope that this new treatment can help them find some relief.
  • 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.
  • Spin Doctors? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rsbroad ( 847149 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @05:31AM (#15210749)
    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 Czar the Bizarre ( 841811 ) <[czar] [at] [goth.net]> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @05:58AM (#15210801) Homepage
    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 help her overcome some of the issues, or at least support her during the harder times.
  • by Masa ( 74401 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @06:37AM (#15210872) Journal
    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 with depression, which cannot be handled with therapy or medication. ECT is another choice, and while it seems to be effective (and it actually is, if done properly and using enough medical background studies) but we do need more subtle and more accurate methods for helping these cases.

    Funny that you say "as long as they are not hurting others", well, hopefully these kind of studies are able to save depressed people who are trying to hurt themselves. For my opinion, suicide is not a proper treatment for severe depression.

    Anyway, I can see your point, but I think that no one is trying to create any kind of sunny smily-face happy-happy-joy-joy society. There certainly is a model that is strived towards, but it is used for these seriously depressed people that cannot function properly. And this is only because there has to be some sort of measurement for "normal" so we can tell, when the treatment is going to the right direction (unfortunately, some times patient his/herself cannot be a reliable source for this kind of information).
  • by bigtrike ( 904535 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:01AM (#15211356)
    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 tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:07AM (#15211823) Journal

    What, were you born stupid? Take a look at the posting right above yours. Jerk.

    Gee, that's really constructive ...

    Your brain is strongly influenced by the chemical and hormonal bath it sits in. Its also influenced by all the sensory input it gets. The GP poster was pointing this out ... you, on the other hand, could probably benefit from a bout of severe depression - maybe it would give you some empathy for other people.

The other line moves faster.