With a significant percentage of people experiencing depression over the course of their lives, researchers have been looking for ways to manage or alleviate the problem, particularly major depression that doesn’t always react to treatments. The article examines how researchers have looked for other types of treatment, specifically implants to identify the brain activity for an individual known as biomarkers. The procedure requires two electrodes to be implanted in a person’s brain; one at the location of the biomarker and the other in the depression circuit. When the first implant receives signals from the brain that it is going to activate depression, the second implant sends a jolt through the brain for six seconds. This alters the type of activity. It operates in the same way as a pacemaker resetting the activity. The idea for this treatment also came from deep brain stimulation currently used to treat some movement disorders that start in the brain, such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. However, depression is more challenging as medical professionals have not identified the exact location of the brain that triggers depression. The research team initiated a two-step process to map how the brain registers depression. This was how they identified where the implants should be placed on the patient for the study.
The participant had experienced depression since childhood. She reported noticeable changes over the first few months, making her concerned that it wouldn’t last because of how abrupt the change had been. She indicated that the implant had actually helped to amplify some of the activities she had learned to reduce the effects of her depression. Since the improvements have continued since the initial implants, researchers are supposedly enrolling other participants in a larger trial. The benefits of stimulating a response in the brain is that it creates a reaction when there are symptoms, not just as set intervals. The disadvantages are that each patient will need a tailored device and their biomarker will need to be identified to ensure the implants are in the right place.
To learn more about this new approach to treating depression, check out Brain Implant Offers Hope for Treatment-Resistant Depression.