By On February 13th, 2012

Will Psychiatric Treatment Change in the Face of Promising Studies?

Deep Brain Stimulation41-year-old Lisa Battiloro of Boynton Beach, Fla had battled severe depression for more than a decade. However, now the symptoms of here depression have largely vanished. She feels hopeful and optimistic about the future.

“My friends and family are amazed,” Ms. Battiloro stated, “I’m a new and improved Lisa.”

Battiloro’s recovery is due to deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS, sometimes referred to as a pacemaker for your brain, isn’t entirely a new procedure. It has been used to halt tremors in over 100,000 cases of Parkinson’s disease. However, new research has indicated that DBS can help to relieve psychiatric disorders like depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD.

“I tried many pharmaceuticals. I tried cognitive-behavior therapy. I had 122 shock treatments. At first they helped but they started to help less and less.” Said Battilaro.

Lisa Barriloro is one of 17 patients in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study turned out to be a success as 92% reported significant relief from their major depression or bipolar disorder. Nearly half of the patients experienced a complete remission free of manic side-effects.

The study, which was led by neurologist Helen Mayberg at Emory University in Atlanta, might change the way that behavioral health disorders are treated. However, it hasn’t been an easy road. Dr. Mayberg and her team spent years conducting brain scans of depressed patients. Over time, the researchers noticed that many patients who got better experienced changes in an area of the cerebral cortex known as Brodmann 25. Other researchers are trying to pinpoint other areas of the brain that could be improved through DBS. DBS might someday revolutionize depression treatment, however, approval from the Food and Drug Administration is still several years off.

For Battilaro, the results of her DBS treatment were nothing short of miraculous. “It was a consistent climb. I was sleeping better. I wasn’t binge eating. I didn’t have any suicidal thoughts.”

We look forward to seeing what role DBS might play in our comprehensive behavioral health treatment program and in the lives of people struggling with chronic depression.

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