New brain stimulation method can reduce tough-to-treat depression

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In a new study from the University of California, San Francisco, researchers found an experimental approach involving deep brain stimulation could help lower depression.

The new approach is called ‘closed-loop neuromodulation.’ By design, it’s a highly individualized intervention, involving a multistep process.

The first step involves locating the particular neural activity in each patient’s brain that appears to be linked to that patient’s pattern of depression.

Once a patient’s specific depression circuitry was identified, he/she then underwent minimally invasive surgery to implant what the researchers described as a “pacemaker for the brain.”

Operated by a battery the size of a matchbox, the device is designed to automatically scan for depression-specific brain activity patterns.

When such patterns are detected, the device sends out short pulses of highly targeted electrical stimulation. The goal: to painlessly zap—and short-circuit—the specific neural activity that gives rise to a patient’s debilitating depression. The result is to dissolve depression fast.

The device is already commercially available for use in the treatment of epilepsy. But less individualized electrical stimulation efforts to treat neurological disorders have met with much more limited success.

This is probably because traditional brain stimulation is continuous, 24 hours a day, and the location is not personalized to each individual’s depression.

In contrast, the latest highly tailored effort is based on each patient’s specific depression circuitry mapping. The team says it is really game-changing as an approach.

If you care about depression, please read studies about this depression drug could shut down the brain if used too much and findings of this nutrient supplement may help lower depression.

For more information about depression treatment and prevention, please see recent studies about long-term use of depression drug may cause addiction and results showing new ‘warning sign’ of early depression.

The study is published in Nature Medicine. One author of the study is Dr. Katherine Scangos.

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