Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Therapeutic approach for patients with severe depression

04.04.2012
Brain pacemakers have a long-term effect in patients with the most severe depression. This has now been proven by scientists from the Bonn University Medical Center.
Eleven patients took part in the study over a period of two to five years. A lasting reduction in symptoms of more than 50% was seen in nearly half of the subjects. A new perspective is thus opened for people with the most severe depression who do not respond to any other therapy. The results are now being presented in the current edition of the journal “Neuropsychopharmacology.”

People with severe depression are constantly despondent, lacking in drive, withdrawn and no longer feel joy. Most suffer from anxiety and the desire to take their own life. Approximately one out of every five people in Germany suffers from depression in the course of his/her life – sometimes resulting in suicide. People with depression are frequently treated with psychotherapy and medication. “However, many patients are not helped by any therapy,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas E. Schläpfer from the Bonn University Medical Center for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. “Many spend more than ten years in bed – not because they are tired, but because they have no drive at all and they are unable to get up.”

One possible alternative is “deep brain stimulation,” in which electrodes are implanted in the patient’s brain. The target point is the nucleus accumbens - an area of the brain known as the gratification center. There, a weak electrical current stimulates the nerve cells. Brain pacemakers of this type are often used today by neurosurgeons and neurologists to treat ongoing muscle tremors in Parkinson’s disease.
A 2009 study proved an antidepressive effect

In 2009, the Bonn scientists were able to establish that brain pacemakers also demonstrate an effect in the most severely depressed patients. Ten subjects who underwent implantation of electrodes in the nucleus accumbens all experienced relief of symptoms. Half of the subjects had a particularly noticeable response to the stimulation by the electrodes.

“In the current study, we investigated whether these effects last over the long term or whether the effects of the deep brain stimulation gradually weaken in patients,” says Prof. Schläpfer. There are always relapses in the case of psychotherapy or drug treatment. Many patients had already undergone up to 60 treatments with psychotherapy, medications and electroconvulsive therapy, to no avail. “By contrast, in the case of deep brain stimulation, the clinical improvement continues steadily for many years.” The scientists observed a total of eleven patients over a period of two to five years. “Those who initially responded to the deep brain stimulation are still responding to it even today,” says the Bonn psychiatrist, summarizing the results. During the study, one patient committed suicide. “That is very unfortunate,” says Prof. Schläpfer. “However, this cannot always be prevented in the case of patients with very severe depression.“

The current study shows that the positive effects last for years

Even after a short amount of time, the study participants demonstrated an improvement in symptoms. “The intensity of the anxiety symptoms decreased and the subjects’ drive improved,” reports the psychiatrist. “After many years of illness, some were even able to work again.“ With the current publication, the scientists have now demonstrated that the positive effects do not decrease over a longer period of time. “An improvement in symptoms was recorded for all subjects; for nearly half of the subjects, the extent of the symptoms was more than 50 percent below that of the baseline, even years after the start of treatment,” says Prof. Schläpfer. “There were no serious adverse effects of the therapy recorded.”

The long-term effect is now confirmed with the current study. How precisely the electrical stimulation is able to alter the function of the nucleus accumbens is not yet known. “Research is still needed in this area,” says Prof. Schläpfer. “Using imaging techniques, it was proven that the electrodes actually activate the nucleus accumbens.” The deep brain stimulation method may signify hope for people who suffer from the most severe forms of depressive diseases. “However, it will still take quite a bit of time before this therapeutic method becomes a part of standard clinical practice,” says the Bonn scientist.
Publication: Long-term Effects of Nucleus Accumbens Deep Brain Stimulation in Treatment Resistant Depression – Evidence for Sustained Efficacy, Neuropsychopharmacology, DOI: 10.1038/npp.2012.44

Contact information:

Prof. Dr. med. Thomas E. Schläpfer
Assistant Director of the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Bonn University Medical Center
Tel. 0049-228-28715715
E-Mail: schlaepf@jhmi.edu

Johannes Seiler | idw
Further information:
http://www3.uni-bonn.de/Pressemitteilungen/085-2012
http://www.uni-bonn.tv/podcasts/20120328_BE_Hirnstimulation.mp4/view

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Indications of Psychosis Appear in Cortical Folding
26.04.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World's smallest optical implantable biodevice

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space

26.04.2018 | Life Sciences

First Li-Fi-product with technology from Fraunhofer HHI launched in Japan

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>