Depression is considered the evil of the century by many experts. Therapies and medications are often prescribed, but there are severe patients who do not respond as expected and develop a resistant and debilitating form of the disease. Now, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), in the United States, have successfully managed to treat a patient with severe depression through the use of an electrical brain implant.
The researchers accessed Sarah’s specific brain circuitry—as the middle-aged patient asked to be called—finding her depressive patterns and redefining them. The team modulated the circuit exclusively for her symptoms, which points to the possibility of customizing the treatment according to the brain configuration of each patient. The study was published Oct. 4 in the journal Nature Medicine.
According to a statement from the university, the team’s success is the result of years of effort to apply advances in neuroscience in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. “This study points the way to a new paradigm that is desperately needed in psychiatry,” psychiatry professor Andrew Krystal said in a statement.
“Previous clinical trials have shown limited success in treating depression with traditional deep brain stimulation (DBS), in part because most devices can only provide constant electrical stimulation, usually only in one area of the brain. A big challenge for the field is that depression can involve different areas of the brain in different people,” explained Krystal.