Rewiring faulty circuits - The promise of Deep Brain Stimulation for PsychiatryAuthor(s): Thomas Eduard Schlaepfer
The introduction of Deep Brain Stimulation for treatment resistant disorders might very well lead to the most significant development in clinical psychiatry of the last forty years – possibly offering a rise of hope for patients to whom medicine had hitherto little to offer. Furthermore, translational research on neuromodulation will allow us to glean something about the underlying cause of patient’s illnesses before figuring out a treatment that addresses the source of the problem. Major depression offers perhaps the best example of the rapid progress being made in understanding the biology of mental illness. Studies on the underlying neurobiology of major depression have typically focused on the description of biological differences between patients and healthy subjects such as alterations of monoaminergic or endocrine systems. Psychotropic drugs work by altering neurochemistry to a large extent in widespread regions of the brain, many of which may be unrelated to depression. A better understanding of defined dysfunctions in these networks will invariably lead to a better understanding of patients afflicted with depression and perhaps contribute to a de-stigmatization of psychiatric patients and the medical specialty treating them.