Implanted device stimulates patient’s brain, treats severe depression, researchers find

A woman with severe depression saw near-immediate relief when treated with a surgically implanted device to stimulate the neural circuit causing the illness, researchers at the University of California San Francisco announced Monday.

The so-called “deep brain stimulation” (DBS) device was described as the equivalent of a pacemaker for the brain, according to a university release posted Monday, with a report on the proof-of-principle trial published in the Nature Medicine journal. 

“This study points the way to a new paradigm that is desperately needed in psychiatry,” Andrew Krystal, PhD, professor of psychiatry and member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, said in a statement. “We’ve developed a precision-medicine approach that has successfully managed our patient’s treatment-resistant depression by identifying and modulating the circuit in her brain that’s uniquely associated with her symptoms.”

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