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Implanted Brain 'Pacemaker' Treats Depression

Patients Improved With Experimental Implant After Antidepressants Failed

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One of the big advantages of the brain pacemaker is that the electrical impulses can be adjusted in patients who don't respond as hoped. Debbie says it took about a year of tweaking, but she now feels "perfectly normal" for the first time in almost a decade.

Unable to do much more than stare out her bedroom window for hours at a time before the surgery, she is now planning to open her own business.

"Unlike the drugs that have failed me, I feel like if, God forbid, this stops working they can make adjustments to get me back on the right track," she says.

All agree that more study is needed to confirm the findings, and that, as with Parkinson's disease, only the sickest patients who don't respond to other treatments would be candidates for the procedure.

"Even brain surgery that is relatively benign, as this is, is a serious procedure," Mayberg says.

"You don't operate on someone's brain if there are other reasonable treatment options. But this is also a serious disease that leaves people morbidly sick for long periods of time. When you see these people living normal lives the way other people do, it is both sobering and humbling," she explains.


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