Science 2 min read

Researchers Develop New Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Depression

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nokwalai /

A joint team of researchers from the Medical Center University of Freiburg (MCUF) and the University of Bonn has discovered a new method to relieve the effects caused by treatment-resistant depression.

In their study, the researchers described how they used brain stimulation on 16 patients diagnosed with depression to alleviate their suffering.

During their experiment, the team stimulated a region of the patients’ brains associated with our neurological reward system. Surprisingly, the deep brain stimulation (DBS) method produced positive results in the patients.

According to the researchers, the severity of depression of all the patients was reduced dramatically. Half of the patients claimed that the reduction had put them below the level of depression where doctors usually put them under treatment.

In a statement, MCUF’s head of Division of Interventional Biological Psychiatry, Thomas Schläpfer, said:

“The most compelling outcome from the study is the sustained efficacy in very severely ill patients. Most treatments in psychiatry cease to be efficacious after months and years, we demonstrated for the first time in demonstrating in a relatively large-scale study that deep brain stimulation is a real option for those patients suffering from treatment-resistant, severe depression.”

Treatment-Resistant Depression

Depression is a common clinical problem that can negatively affect a person’s emotional, physical, and mental state. According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in 15 adults suffers from depression while one in six people will experience the illness at some point in their life.

Depression is often caused by multiple risk factors which include a person’s biochemistry, genetics, and environment. Fortunately, while it is considered a severe medical illness, depression is still treatable. About 80 to 90 percent of people suffering from depression respond positively to treatment.

However, some people suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The 16 patients listed by the MCUF and Bonn researchers have reportedly suffered from depression for periods ranging from 8 to 22 years. All of them have already gone through different drug therapies and electroconvulsive therapies.

Schläpfer explained:

“Our patients had struggled with severe depression for years with no signs of improvement. Deep brain stimulation brought most of them significant relief within days, which lasted throughout the course of the therapy.”

Schläpfer noted that one thing that makes their study sensational is that data shows the effects of DBS may become long-lasting with the positive effects continuing for years.

Read More: Neurological Connection Between Poor Sleep And Depression Found

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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