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April 9, 2012 at 10:33 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Brain Pacemakers Used in Depression Relief

By Brad Plaggemars More Blogs by This Author

Hello and welcome to Mental Marvels-where the discussion revolves around brain behavior and mental phenomenons.

Today, I thought that I'd discuss that effects brain pacemakers have on severe depression.

What is a Brain Pacemaker?

First off, what exactly is a brain pacemaker? A brain pacemaker is a small implant designed to fight strong psychiatric diseases.

Studying the Effects

There was a study recently released by the Bonn University Medical Center that examines the long-term effects brain pacemakers have on severely depressed individuals. There were eleven people who participated in the study over a two to five year period of time. Of those who participated, nearly half encountered a long-term reduction in symptoms of over 50 percent.

Those with depression are usually treated with psychotherapy and medication, but Dr. Thomas E. Schläpfer from the Bonn University Medical Center for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy says:

...many patients are not helped by any therapy. 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.

Another previous study examined ten participants with electrodes implanted in the nucleus accumbens. All of the subjects experienced relief of symptoms. Half of those who participated felt a significant difference. Even over a short period of time, subjects showed improvements in symptoms.

Schläpfer says:

The intensity of the anxiety symptoms decreased and the subjects’ drive improved. After many years of illness, some were even able to work again. 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. There were no serious adverse effects of the therapy recorded.

Types of Pacemakers

There is an effective alternative that is called "deep brain stimulation," which is when electrodes are implanted into a person's brain. The procedure consists of using a weak electrical current to stimulate the nucleus accumbens, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for feelings of gratification. These particular types of pacemakers are used by neurosurgeons and neurologists to treat continuous muscle tremors in Parkinson’s disease.

Schläpfer claims that it will take a while to make this method a "part of standard clinical practice". The results of the study can be found in the current edition of the journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.


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