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Deep brain stimulation improves bipolar symptoms


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a safe and effective intervention for treatment-resistant depression in patient with either unipolar major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar II disorder (BP). This is according to new research found in the Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“Depression is a serious and debilitating medical illness,” said Helen S. Mayberg, MD, professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine. “When we found that the potential for effective and sustained antidepressant response with DBS for patients with otherwise treatment-resistant major depressive disorder was high, the next step was to determine if patients with intractable bipolar depression could also be successfully treated.”

Characteristics of bipolar disorder

Bipolar spectrum disorder, also called manic-depression, is characterized by bouts of mania or hypomania alternating between episodes of depression. People with bipolar disorder do not tend to have full manic episodes but do experience frequent and intense depression, and there is a high risk of suicide.

How deep brain stimulation (DBS) works

DBS uses high-frequency electrical stimulation targeted to a predefined area of the brain associated with the particular neuropsychiatric disorder being treated.

The study

Study participants received single-blind stimulation over four weeks, followed by active stimulation over 24 weeks. They were then evaluated for up to two years following the onset of active stimulations.

Results of the study

A significant decrease in depressive symptoms and an increase in brain function were associated with continuing stimulation. Patients who experienced remission from the disorder did not experience spontaneous relapse. None of the participants had a manic or hypomanic episode.

The small study included 17 participants. Mayberg and her team will continue to refine the intervention and improve the results.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Archives of General Psychiatry

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