Zapping the blues.

PhysOrg reports on a new treatment that aims at eliminating depression by directly stimulating the brain:

DBS [Deep Brain Stimulation] uses high-frequency electrical stimulation targeted to the specific areas of the brain involved in neuropsychiatric disease. Twenty patients received SCG DBS for 12 months. Twelve of 20 patients experienced a significant decrease in depressive symptoms (defined by a 50 percent decrease in the Hamilton Depression rating scale) by six months, with seven patients essentially well with few remaining symptoms (remission, defined as a Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score <8). Benefits were largely maintained at 12 months with continued stimulation. No long-term side effects were reported.

Each study patient was implanted with two thin wire electrodes (one on each side of the brain) in the white matter adjacent to SCG. The other end of each wire was connected under the skin of the neck to a pulse generator implanted in the chest – similar to a pacemaker – that directs the electrical current. The researchers regulated the intensity of the current according to the response of the patient.