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Semin Clin Neuropsychiatry. 2002 Oct;7(4):293-304.

Novel treatments of mood disorders based on brain circuitry (ECT, MST, TMS, VNS, DBS).

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  • 1Brain Stimulation Laboratory; and the Department of Psychiatry, Center for Advanced Imaging Research at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.


Advances in understanding the functional and structural anatomy of depression outlined in this issue set the stage for attempting to manipulate implicated brain regions as potential antidepressant therapies. On the one hand, these circuit- and device-based approaches to treating depression are not new. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) dates back to the beginning of modern biologic psychiatry with the discovery and rapid increase of first chemical (around 1910), and then later ECT. On the other hand, this area represents an important paradigm shift with treatments that are radical and different. A dizzying array of diverse technologies now allows researchers to stimulate the brain in undreamed of ways. However, the approaches described in this article are still considered experimental and are not approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), except ECT, which predates the FDA. These device-based approaches to brain stimulation offer promise as potential acute and even longterm treatments. Additionally, the research determining whether and how these devices work to influence mood promises to help unravel the neurophysiology of mood regulation. These novel treatments are thus the translational tools to bridge from advances in brain imaging, into new treatments for depressed patients.

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