"Deep brain stimulation has long been seen as valuable for controlling movement disorders. It now is being investigated for hard-to-treat psychiatric disorders," according to Susannah Tye and Mark Frye from the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, and Kendall Lee, Mayo Clinic Department of Neurosurgery.
"Early results indicate the effect on depression and obsessive compulsive disorder is beneficial, but the therapy needs further study," Dr. Lee says. The potential for this breakthrough treatment is enormous in reducing the toll of mental illness on patients, their families and society, according to the review.
Unlike electroshock therapy (ECT), which stimulates the entire brain, DBS stimulates specific parts of the brain. DBS is thought to be functionally equivalent to creating a lesion on the brain, but with the advantage of being adjustable and reversible.
"It is like implanting a pacemaker for the brain," says Dr. Lee. The patient is awake during deep brain stimulation surgery while a neurosurgeon implants the electrodes. Patients are able to give immediate feedback. Additionally, patients do not feel any pain during the implantation procedure since the brain is without pain receptors.
Medications and psychiatric therapy can effectively treat many patients with major depression; however, up to 20 percent of these patients fail to respond to these non-surgical therapeutic interventions.
"DBS is not a miracle cure and should not be used to treat all depression," says Dr. Lee. "It should be reserved for those patients who have treatment-resistant depression and approved by a multi-disciplinary team."
MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic