Psycho-Babble Medication | about biological treatments | Framed
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What do you think?

Posted by Annie on May 22, 1999, at 13:57:56

I have written here previously about participating in a trial using rTMS to treat depression. The antidepressant effect, for me, was slight and very temporary. Others I know experienced more profound relief from depressive symptoms, but also temporarily. I found an article at another site today that encouraged me that research could go yet further with magnetic and/or electrical brain stimulation:

BOSTON(AP) Accidental electrical stimulation of the brain during medical treatment can trigger bouts of deep depression that come and go almost instantly.
French doctors made the discovery while treating a woman with Parkinson's Disease. They implanted electrodes deep in her brain in an attempt to stimulate the parts that malfunction in her disease.To their surprise, they found that turning on one of these electrodes made the woman profoundly sad. She leaned to the right, started to cry and told of feeling sad, guilty and useless.
"I no longer wish to live, to see anything, hear anything, feel anything." she told doctors. But 90 seconds after the doctors stopped the electrical stimulation, the woman's depression disappeared.
Stimulating another electrode implanted nearby dramatically relieved the woman's Parkinson's disease, enabling her to give up taking her medicine.
Intrigued by their chance discovery, the doctors asked if they could repeat their stimulation of the depression electrode while they videotaped her. The woman agreed, and twice more they triggered profound sadness. Dr. Boulos-Paul Bejjani and others from INSERM, the French research organization, published a report on the case in last week's NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.

I also found this commentary(excerpted by me) published in the NE Journal of Medicine about Bejjani's (et al)accidental discovery:

...The report by Bejjani et al. raises fundamental and far-reaching questions about depression, as well as about electrical treatments for neuropsychiatric illnesses. Among such questions are the following: If the full constellation of depressive symptoms can be evoked by the electrical stimulation of a minute region of the brain in a person with no history of depression, does this indicate that depression may be "hard-wired" in the brain? Could there be an evolutionary advantage or purpose for depression -- such as an intensification of a grief reaction that aids in parental and conjugal bonding and that protects vulnerable offspring from familial predation? Can symptoms of mania be similarly induced by deep stimulation of a different region of the brain, and would this procedure be therapeutic for a patient with depression? Would stimulation of the locus in the substantia nigra reported to have evoked the symptoms of depression treat another patient with manic illness? Would electrical stimulation or modification of other regions of the brain treat alcoholism, substance abuse, sociopathy, aggression, violence, and other conditions of far-reaching importance to individuals and society? What are the implications of focal electrical stimulation of the brain for the elicitation of nonpathologic states of feeling, such as humor, astonishment, curiosity, well-being, and love? What are the ethical considerations and social implications of our being able to modify our responses, experiences, and abilities by electrical alteration of our brains? Finally, will a world that is filled with the pain and suffering caused by severe neuropsychiatric disorders eventually be replaced by one in which we control our feelings, perceptions, and behavior -- and those of others -- with electrical devices that stimulate the cells of our brains?
Stuart C. Yudofsky, M.D.
Baylor College of Medicine

So what do you think? Taking a quantum leap, if heart patients can have pacemakers, would any depressives(besides me)be willing to have mood-pacers? Just wanted to "stimulate" a little conversation.




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