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How can treatment-resistant depression be treated?

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Summary:

Treatment of resistant depression has traditionally most commonly been treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Answer:

Treatment of resistant depression has traditionally most commonly been treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT has been modified to avoid the pain previously associated with it and is the most effective and quick-acting treatment for resistant depression. The downside is that it works by inducing brain seizures and can impair memory. Its therapeutic benefits can also fade over time. New methods of brain stimulation also offer the possibility of relief. These technologies exploit the fact that the brain is an electrical organ: it responds to electrical and magnetic stimulation to modulate brain circuits and change brain activity. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), pioneered by Dr. Mark George with the support of NARSAD Grants, was approved by the FDA in 2008 as a treatment for some otherwise untreatable depressions. rTMS is a noninvasive method that works through a coil held over the target area of the brain. A magnetic field passes through the skull to activate the appropriate brain circuit and no seizures are induced. Deep brain stimulation (DBS), a technique adapted for treating depression by Dr. Helen Mayberg with the support of NARSAD Grants, works through electrodes planted deep in the brain. Another method, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), stimulates the vagus nerve in the neck to therapeutically activate brain function. Magnetic seizure therapy (MST) combines rTMS and ECT to achieve a safer form of seizure therapy. MST has been supported through NARSAD Grants to Dr. Sarah Lisanby.
(Source: bbrfoundation.org)

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