Electrical implants in the skull and attached to the brain are thought to be able to recognize and treat severe depression.
Sarah, 36, said the device was installed more than a year ago and changed her life completely.
A device the size of a matchbox on his head always “opens”, but only when he feels that it can be useful for him.
This experimental study is described in the journal Nature Medicine.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, say it’s too early to say if other patients like Sarah can help with depression, which is difficult to treat, but they are optimistic and plan to do more tests.
Sarah is the first person to undergo this experimental treatment.
In recent years, treatments such as antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy have failed.
Such an operation may seem heartwarming, but Sarah said the chances of gaining “any relief” are better than the darkness she experienced.
“I have exhausted all possible treatment options.”
“My daily life was extremely narrow. I felt like I was suffering every day. I couldn’t move or do anything.”
The operation involves digging small holes in the skull to pull the wires that will track and stimulate the brain.
A box with a battery and a pulse generator is placed on the skull under his hair.
The procedure lasted an entire working day and was performed under complete anesthesia, meaning that Sarah was always unconscious.
Sarah says she feels euphoric when she wakes up.
“When the implant was inserted for the first time, my life immediately improved. My life was pleasant again. “
“Suicidal thoughts disappeared in a few weeks.”
“If I found myself in a deep depression, I would only see ugly things.”
A year later, Sarah is still in good condition and has no side effects.
“The device saved me from depression, allowed me to return to my best version and build a life worth living.”
It can’t feel when the device is turned on, but adds:
“I can say in 15 minutes that it’s probably off because of the vigilance and energy I started to feel, or the positivity.”
This is how it works
Dr. Katarina Skangos, a university psychiatrist and researcher, said the innovation was possible by identifying “depressive cycles” in Sarah’s brain.
“We found a place with an area called the ventral stratium, where stimulation consistently eliminated his depressive feelings.”
“And we found an area of brain activity that could predict that the symptoms in the amygdala were the most severe.”
Scientists say more research is needed to test this experimental treatment and determine if it can help people with more depression and possibly other conditions.
“We need to learn how these patterns change in patients, and we need to repeat this process several times,” says Dr. Skangos.
It has hired two more patients for the test and hopes to hire nine more.
“We also need to see if a person’s biomarker or brain circulation changes over time as treatment continues.”
“We didn’t know we could cure depression because it was so strong.”
“And in that sense, we’re really excited about it. It’s something that’s very much needed in this area right now.”
“Frankly, this is not a demonstration of the effectiveness of the approach,” said Dr. Edward Cheng, a neurosurgeon who implanted the device.
“This is the first demonstration that works for everyone, and we still have a lot of work to do to confirm these results and make sure it can actually be used as a normal treatment option.”
Professor Jonathan Roiser, a neuroscientist at University College England, said:
“Although this type of highly invasive surgery is only used in the most severe patients with incurable symptoms, it is an exciting step due to the nature of special stimulation.”
“Tests on other patients are likely to require different imaging and stimulation, as the exact cerebral circulation behind the symptoms may vary from person to person.”
“Since we are only one patient so far and there are no control conditions, it remains to be seen whether these promising results will be sustained in clinical trials.”
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