Background: We investigated the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral capsule/ventral striatum (VC/VS) for treatment refractory depression.
Methods: Fifteen patients with chronic, severe, highly refractory depression received open-label DBS at three collaborating clinical sites. Electrodes were implanted bilaterally in the VC/VS region. Stimulation was titrated to therapeutic benefit and the absence of adverse effects. All patients received continuous stimulation and were followed for a minimum of 6 months to longer than 4 years. Outcome measures included the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale-24 item (HDRS), the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and the Global Assessment of Function Scale (GAF).
Results: Significant improvements in depressive symptoms were observed during DBS treatment. Mean HDRS scores declined from 33.1 at baseline to 17.5 at 6 months and 14.3 at last follow-up. Similar improvements were seen with the MADRS (34.8, 17.9, and 15.7, respectively) and the GAF (43.4, 55.5, and 61.8, respectively). Responder rates with the HDRS were 40% at 6 months and 53.3% at last follow-up (MADRS: 46.7% and 53.3%, respectively). Remission rates were 20% at 6 months and 40% at last follow-up with the HDRS (MADRS: 26.6% and 33.3%, respectively). The DBS was well-tolerated in this group.
Conclusions: Deep brain stimulation of the VC/VS offers promise for the treatment of refractory major depression.