Researchers from the Medical Center -- University of Freiburg and University Hospital Bonn recently announced that patients suffering from extreme depression that resists treatment can benefit from deep brain stimulation.
The researchers implemented electrodes in 16 study subjects to energize a deeply located region of the brain's reward system. The electrode method resulted in a marked reduction in the levels of severity of depression in every patient -- on average, the severity was reduced by 50 per cent.
Group leader Prof. Dr. Thomas Schläpfer, head of the Division of Interventional Biological Psychiatry at the Medical Center - University of Freiburg, said in a press release, "The most compelling outcome from the study is the sustained efficacy in very severely ill patients."
He added that the majority of treatments in psychiatry stop being effectual after months and years, but that he and his team were able to demonstrate deep brain stimulation as a viable alternative for people who battle depression that resists treatment.
It's believed that anywhere from 10 to 30 per cent of people experiencing recurring depression don't respond to conventional treatments. The 16 participants in the Freiburg/Bonn study had experienced depression anywhere from 8 to 22 years and had previously tried 20 electroconvulsive therapies, 70 hours of psychotherapy, and 18 drug therapies -- all without success.
Prof. Schläpfer. reported that deep brain stimulation brought relief within a matter of days -- a condition that lasted throughout their therapy.
"Other forms of treatment like medication and psychotherapy often lose their effectiveness over the course of time. Absolutely sensational about the study data is that the effect seems to be long lasting, with the positive effects continuing for years", he said.