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Brazilian Study Shows that Pacemaker Is Effective against Depression

04/24/2017 - 11h45

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MARIANA VERSOLATO

She couldn't stop crying top, sleep was impossible and the medicine was no longer effective. Then, teacher Elizabete Ferreira Lima, aged 50, became a volunteer in a new study that would test the use of pacemakers against depression in 2015.

The pacemaker was implanted through a minimally invasive surgery in the region above her eyebrows. As the stimuli change the neurotransmitters, improvements are quickly felt. "The crying stopped," says Lima.

The results of the study, which involved 19 patients, have recently been compiled and only confirm the improvements felt by Lima. "We measured the volunteers' responses with a Hamilton scale [used to evaluate levels of depression] as well as a quality of life scale and they showed substantial improvements," says Antonio De Salles, the head of HCor Neuro, the center for the hospital specialized in neurology.

In one of the scales, which goes from 0 to 33, the figures above 20 indicate that the patient has depression. Patients in the study showed an average decline from 24 to 12.

The patients were divided into two groups and the stimuli were turned on in only one of them - the other group received a type of placebo to serve as comparison.

It was a double-blind study - neither the patients nor the doctors knew who was receiving the stimuli and it lasted for six months. Its target was patients who suffered of moderate treatment refractory depression – those who do not respond to treatments with drugs and psychotherapy.

De Salles says that the electric stimuli in certain areas of the brain change the neurotransmitters and try to correct the deficit of neurotransmitters that cause depression.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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