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Treating Depression with Electrodes Inside the Brain | NNDC

Treating Depression with Electrodes Inside the Brain

Features Helen Mayberg, PhD, FRCPC, Emory University 

Atlanta (CNN) -- The first time Edi Guyton tried to commit suicide, she was 19 years old, wracked with depression and unable to deal with the social and academic pressure of college.
Even as a little girl, Guyton never seemed happy. Her mother had encouraged her to smile, but she didn't see any reason to. In her mind, everyone who smiled was "faking it."
She often thought about taking her own life, and one night in her college dorm, Guyton's dark thoughts gave way to action. With a razor blade, Guyton cut one wrist, then the other.
"I think I wanted it to get better or I wanted to die," she said. "The point was that everything was so bad, I wanted people to know that it was controlling me."

Edi Guyton lived with debilitating depression for 40 years before experimental brain surgery.
Her depression controlled her life for the next 40 years -- until she decided to volunteer for an experimental treatment. A neurosurgeon would drill two holes in Guyton's skull and implant a pair of battery-powered electrodes deep inside her brain.

The procedure -- called deep brain stimulation, or DBS -- targets a small brain structure known as Area 25, the "ringleader" for the brain circuits that control our moods, according to neurologist Dr. Helen Mayberg.

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Posted to Members in the News & Publications on April 19, 2012