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Deep Brain Stimulation For Depression – Does it Work and Why?

Sidney H. Kennedy, M.D., FRCPC
Professor of Psychiatry and Psychiatrist-in-Chief
University of Toronto

Sidney H. Kennedy presents his and others’ research on treatment resistant depression as part of the University’s Department of Psychiatry grand rounds. In particular, he explores deep brain treatments (e.g., neurosurgery) from a chemical perspective, and their effectiveness in combating depression. Treatment resistant depression, he says, does not necessarily have a hard and fast definition; some may define it as depression that lasts for 12 months or longer, whereas others define it as depression that does not remit to treatment of any length. He then addresses the different areas of the brain implicated in DBS and the reasons they’re affected. To conclude, he remarks that psychiatry has become a practice of triple therapy, comprising stimulator adjustments (including DBS), pharmacotherapy, and psychosocial interventions. Some of the main questions that derive from the current knowledge of DBS are who are the optimal patients for this type of procedure, and what are the optimal stimulation parameters.


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