For the first time, a patient suffering from depression was treated with a brain implant

This is a world first: a woman suffering from depression was successfully treated following the placement of a brain implant. A ray of hope for all those who suffer from this disease.

Depression is a very difficult disease to overcome which affects many people. Today, scientists around the world are looking for a treatment to help people with depression. Although a few trials have already been carried out, they generally have no effect on patients, who develop resistance to the treatments.

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Photo credit: UC San Francisco

However, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, have made a major discovery. Thanks to the participation of Sarah, a 36-year-old woman suffering from severe depression, they were able to develop a brain implant that successfully alleviates the symptoms of depression. Indeed, Sarah has been undergoing treatment since her childhood in an attempt to heal herself and get better, without success.

“I was at the end of the line, she confided. I was severely depressed I couldn’t see myself continuing if that was all I could do, if I could ever get past that. It was not a life worth living. ”

A brain implant for depression

To design their brain implant, the team of researchers studied Sarah’s brain when she was entering a period of depression. During this time, they noticed that her brain was emitting a pattern of brain waves, which had never been detected before.

placeholder.pngThe implant triggers stimulation in the part of the brain that activates during depression. Photo credit: UC San Francisco

The researchers then placed an electrode wire in the part of the brain that was active during depression, in order to stimulate it for a few seconds. This stimulation helps to counteract the symptoms, and to remove the effects associated with depression.

“The idea that we can treat symptoms as they arise is a whole new way to approach the most difficult to treat cases of depression.”said Katherine Scangos, a psychiatrist at the University of California.

A ray of hope in the fight against depression

In Sarah’s case, this brain implant was a real success, and the young woman became the very first person in the world to respond positively to treatment.

“When I received the first stimulation, I felt a sense of intense joy, and my depression was a distant nightmare for a while. It was the first time I spontaneously laughed or smiled in five years. During the first few months, the depression subsided so suddenly that I wasn’t sure it would last. But it lasted. I have found that the device really complements therapy and personal care ”, she asserted.

placeholder.pngSarah is doing better since she got the implant. Photo credit: UC San Francisco

Although this discovery is a real medical breakthrough, the implant created by the researchers is not yet universal. This means that a personalized implant will have to be tailor-made for each patient, depending on their depression.

“We have to look at how these circuits vary from patient to patient and repeat this work several times. We need to see if an individual’s brain circuit changes over time as treatment continues. This success in itself is an incredible advance in our knowledge of the brain function that underlies mental illness ”, said Katherine Scangos.

This is not the first time that scientists have developed a brain implant to treat diseases. Indeed, implants have already succeeded in relieving patients with Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

 
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