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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2014 Mar;16(1):83-91.

Deep brain stimulation in the treatment of depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA.


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Major depressive disorder is a worldwide disease with debilitating effects on a patient's life. Common treatments include pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy. Many patients do not respond to these treatments; this has led to the investigation of alternative therapeutic modalities. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is one of these modalities. It was first used with success for treating movement disorders and has since been extended to the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Although DBS is still an emerging treatment, promising efficacy and safety have been demonstrated in preliminary trials in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Further, neuroimaging has played a pivotal role in identifying some DBS targets and remains an important tool for evaluating the mechanism of action of this novel intervention. Preclinical animal studies have broadened knowledge about the possible mechanisms of action of DBS for TRD, Given that DBS involves neurosurgery in patients with severe psychiatric impairment, ethical questions concerning capacity to consent arise; these issues must continue to be carefully considered.


antidepressant; cortex; development; mood disorder; serotonin; stress

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