Researchers from Bonn University Hospital have found a way to cure depression.
Prof. Dr. Volker Arnd Coenen, neurosurgeon at the Department of Neurosurgery, implanted electrodes into the medial forebrain bundles in the brains of subjects, who were suffering from major depression with the electrodes being connected to a brain pacemaker.
The nerve cells were then stimulated by means of a weak electrical current - a method called Deep Brain Stimulation.
In a matter of days, in six out of seven patients, symptoms like anxiety, despondence, listlessness and joylessness improved considerably.
Prof. Dr. Thomas E. Schlapfer from the Bonn University Hospital Department of Psychiatry und Psychotherapy said that such sensational success both in terms of the strength of the effects, as well as the speed of the response has so far not been achieved with any other method.
The researchers have already shown in several studies that deep brain stimulation shows an amazing and–given the severity of the symptoms– unexpected degree of amelioration of symptoms in major depression.
In those studies, however, the physicians had not implanted the electrodes into the medial forebrain bundle but instead into the nucleus accumbens, another part of the brain’s reward system.
The patients were observed for a period of up to 18 month after the intervention.
Schlapfer added that the anti-depressive effect of deep brain stimulation within the medial forebrain bundle has not decreased during this period.
The study has been published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.