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Deep brain stimulation successful for treatment of severely depressive patient
Date:1/8/2010

A team of neurosurgeons at Heidelberg University Hospital and psychiatrists at the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim have for the first time successfully treated a patient suffering from severe depression by stimulating the habenula, a tiny nerve structure in the brain. The 64-year-old woman, who had suffered from depression since age 18, could not be helped by medication or electroconvulsive therapy. Since the procedure, she is for the first time in years free of symptoms.

Scientific studies have shown that the habenula is hyperactive in depression, the idea was to downregulate this structure by deep brain stimulation. The surgical procedure is based on a hypothesis of how the habenula is involved in depression that was first formulated by Dr. Alexander Sartorius, psychiatrist at the Central Institute for Mental Health (CIMH; Director: Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg; former Director CIMH Professor Fritz Henn, Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York). The stereotactic procedure at the Neurosurgery Department of Heidelberg University Hospital (Medical Director: Professor Andreas Unterberg) was performed by Dr. Karl Kiening, head of stereotactic neurosurgery. The concept of habenula stimulation and the case study were published in the leading scientific journal Biological Psychiatry.

A new treatment option for therapy-resistent depression

Depression is a common psychiatric illness; some one third of patients do not respond to medication or psychotherapy. Electroconvulsive therapy, used for such severe or treatment resistant cases, is also not always effective. This was also the case for the Heidelberg/Mannheim patient, who never reached sustained remission after electroconvulsive therapy.

In deep brain stimulation, electrodes are inserted into the brain and are connected with wires under the skin to an electronic impulse generator implanted in the chest. The electrodes emit current that contin
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Contact: Dr. Karl Kiening
Karl.Kiening@med.uni-heidelberg.de
49-622-156-8017
University Hospital Heidelberg
Source:Eurekalert  

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