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Mending a broken mind

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

What does sadness sound like? 'Cells firing five to 30 times per second' ...Read the full article

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  1. jean janes from Canada writes: What a revelation! Perhaps in the future one will be able to dispense with medication which in the best outcomes is not total relief and does not give one the old vim and viger that one had.
  2. jean janes from Canada writes: With only two people recommending this article,one would assume that people who could benefit from this information are not reading it, what a shame!
  3. Western Observer from Canada writes: Thank you for giving those who need this hope.
  4. Jeff Balmer from Charlotte, United States writes: This is an amazing article - thanks for covering something of this importance, and offering the possibility of hope.
  5. Shirley Jackson from Oliver, BC, Canada writes: Is this ethical? There is a medical theory that says depression is a mechanism that evolved to maximize our reproduction by helping us to understand our social relationships. Whether you are depressed or not depends on your mate, your relatives, your success, your status in the hierachy, and your future. It's not a disease. Think of depression as evolutionary night-vision goggles that help you focus and see your reality and react to it.

    Some depression is caused by poor nutrition. I take vitamins, minerals, and the herb St. Johns Wort to lose weight. I don't like to do it. It costs me a lot of money. It requires discipline. I choked often on the big tablets until I cut them in half. My super multi-vitamin made me vomit twice because I crushed it into a powder -- 'toxic' said my stomach. By God, the supplements work! I feel much better. And for me, as a side effect, St. Johns Wort works to prevent depression.
  6. Tracy Bracy from Ottawa, Canada writes: Ok, i am now convinced that these articles are sponsored by a living will insurance agent.
  7. Emma Hawthorne from Canada writes: Maybe this 'works' for some but it is hard to buy into the notion that people become depressed solely for physiological reasons or that their brains should be 'reset' to lessen depression. The nature of medicine is to deal with all symptoms as biological issues. It's fast, efficient and doesn't involve lame emotions. But for introspective feeling people, healing is usually found in finding or recovering one's psychological centre and in finding support and rapport, possibly for the first time, in a very skilled psychotherapist. That kind of success would be more lasting and would empower an individual to weather later storms that come to every life. I suspect science types might well want to choose surgery while artsy types need the skilled psychotherapy. The worst-case scenario would be to have science types attempting pschotherapy with artsy feeling people. Whoops, that sounds like the current status quo disaster that passes for mental health services today! Moving psychiatry back to its medical roots and moving interested skilled clinical psychologists into OHIP to provide skilled psychotherapy seems like the obvios rational choice for optimum results.
  8. Philosopher Dog from Toronto, Canada writes: Bizarre and crude solution. These sorts of solutions are based on understanding the human animal as a machine. I doubt very much that depression is simply the brain not firing in a certain area. I think this is a short cut, perhaps temporary solution at best, for the most severe cases. I'm afraid that depression is a whole lot more complex a problem than this technology understands it to be.
  9. victoria arsenualt from halifax, Canada writes: I cannot help but wonder, if, in 40 or 50 years, we will look back, as we look back now, in disbelief. Who is to say these medications and surgery will not come back to haunt us?Surgery in realation to mental illness is too close to repeating history. It seems that the road to understanding mental illness has infinite branches that lead nowhere. It is not all about medication or surgery, but about teaching the person struggling with mental illness how to help themselves cope, and identify symptoms. It is also just as important for that person to have unlimited support and care when needed. There is no 'quick fix', and we shouldn't expect one. It is the same as therapy if you injur yourself. You know it's going to take work and lots of help from others, mental illness is the same. Your brain is injured. It takes time and lots of work, and lots of patience.
  10. Mike Michaels from Toronto Expat, United States writes: Dr. Lozano should be commended. Imagine, a Doctor at a Canadian University that actually does something and innovates. Dr. Lozano should be given a raise, and his own research institute. It could be funded by other Canadian Universities, that by definition are doing nothing productive with their money.
  11. Teresa Mulligan from BC, Canada writes: My mom had DBS for Parkinson's (PD) 4 years ago. It has changed her life and I am so grateful for the science that led to this opportunity for her.

    The difference I see with treating depression is that depression is not as distinct as PD in symptoms, diagnosis, or location in the brain. Therefore, how can the treatment be? There is risk with this surgery. I will never forget waiting for mom to come out of OR alive and intact. The risk for cognitive behavioural therapy, which is an evidence based treatment for depression, is negligible.

    I don't think that we are quite ready, in the field of neuroscience, to take this simplistic of an approach to the brain. I know that culturally, we desperately want to. But even my mom, with a well known, well localized motor disorder comparatively, does not have complete relief of her symptoms and has side effects of this therapy that are daunting. Brains are attached to people with lives; they are not computers for the tinkering.

    Thank you for this well written article.
  12. Wilma Leung from Vancouver, Canada writes:
    Sadness delibitates our abilities to control and overcome sadness, and I truly understand and believe that supports and intervention during the early stages of depression are most effective.

    Whilst strength, courage and positivities are inner qualities that a person cultivates to cope with life, and some lucky ones would say everyone 'should' have, there's significant risk in losing a depressed person who is (perhaps has to be) totally self-reliant.

    If we can accurately locate the subject matter of the delibilating sadness, then we can also 'understand' it, 'know' its place in our life, and transform it.

    That transformation is much more than happiness. It is a skill of mastering life.

    On the other hand, I can also fully understand that locating the subject matter of the delibilating sadness can be a complex, convoluted and forever delusory task, and 'empowering' a delibitated person with surgical tools could very likely provide this person (and his community) with a quality of life that s/he might not achieve within his/her time. That is a contribution that we as a society can use, and use much.
  13. ellen m from ontario, Canada writes: I would never do any like that to myself. what if they made one mistake and damage you for the rest of your life.
    yes, I go through some really hard times. but have someone drill in my head. I could not handle that, and I don't just deal with depression,
    I wouldn't think I would be a candidate for it because I would still have take medication for other disorders. I am glad it worked for this man and he can have his life back. it was a very good success story!!
  14. Anthony Krass from Waterloo, Canada writes: I wander what's behind all this wonderful mechanism of the brain. What's behind the evolution of neurotransmitters and the mood particularly? Appearantly the evolution causes some malfunctioning for some individuals but why is depression so common? Are we doing something wrong on earth? What were the rates in the centuries before for example? I am a mild sufferer personally too, i used efexor for years, now gave up on it (was very effective for me, but extremely hard to quit), and started St.John's Wort, multivitamins, omega-3 and 5-htp, plus exercise.
  15. Confused By It All from Gatineau, Canada writes: One of the earliest uses for experimental brain probbing was in the treatment of epilepsy. Dr. Pennfield and Dr. Cohen of the Montreal Neurological Insitute did probes (see the 'burnt toast' Heritate Minute) as back back as 1937 - and used partial frontal lobotomization to help epileptics escape from very frequent (20 a day in some cases) seizures. This probing was intended to avoid having the surgeon cut vital links. At the time, the doctors referred to epilepsy as 'an electric storm in the brain.' Some of those people lived long, productive lives after being treated - let's hope the same can happen for depressives.
  16. Action Jackson from Canada writes: Just because we use one word ('depression') in a diagnosis doesn't mean we're always talking about the same condition. I'll bet there are several distinct neurophysiological conditions that clumsily get lumped together by our crude taxonomy. Probably pills work best for one of the conditions we label 'depression', while talk therapy works for another, and this exciting surgery for yet another condition. Regardless, it's usually, for most of these conditions, silly to talk about attitude (or to exhort one to 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps'). The whole problem is that the relevant part of the machine between the ears that's in charge of pulling oneself up is malfunctioning. Fix this hardware and the software-psychology stuff should work better.
  17. You're most likely redundant from Canada writes: Nearly every single expert on the Globe's treatment of mental health illness is a psychiatrist.

    Inherent in this is the Globe's (and society's) failure to properly address this issue from the get-go.

    Depression is a condition that has facets that extend far beyond the discipline of psychiatry.

    Disappointing that the Globe can't see past the medicalizing and institutional treatment of this issue and instead seek viewpoints from other disciplines as well.
  18. Canadian Woman from Canada writes: As a person suffering from life-long treatment resistant depression, for which everything medical & alternative has been tried, with -at best - low-moderate results - and usually no results at all, I must comment. This treatment sounds crazy & dangerous at first glance. However, if there was something that could give a person in a serious depression some light, some life - it would be worth it. Because otherwise, living is simply too painful to bear indefinitely for many. If you have never felt this utter black hopelessness, where all there is is a world of pain, you have no idea what one would do for relief from this black place.
  19. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: I agree with many of the comments here. While it is wonderful that Mr. Miller no longer feels depressed, I can't help wondering if he underwent the surgical equivalent of a placebo pill. Interesting that his depression finally lifted after Dr Giaccobe gave him a series of pep talks along with upping the increasing the voltage. The emphathetic touch goes a long way in mental health. Now when Mr. Miller feels a little off, he has the added anxiety of wondering if the mechanism is faulty.
  20. David Smith from winnipeg, writes: I am the husband of a treatment resitant wife, We have tried all kinds of meds and even ECT but to no avail. My wife worked for 13 years at the same job till the depression got so bad she was not able to work, meds worked for a short time then they would stop,so on to the next one, and the next. things have gotten so bad that we have had to go to the hospital, and then end up getting admitted and stay any where from 2 week to 3 months. get dicharged come home and feel the same as she did before the admission. I know she would be very interested in this procedure but is not sure how to get on to a waiting list. As a husband and father I think that anytime one can gain some of there life back is the greatest news ever. We have been together for 15 years and married for 12 and I sure miss my old wife the one that would laugh, and go outside , visit family and friends, cuddle and show affection. If this procedure could give her back just some of those things I would be happy and I know she would be so happy
  21. Sophie Caulliez from Montreal, Qc, Canada writes: In November 2005 I was on the operating table for that same operation except it was perform in Montral with a different team. I was patient number one off phase I research, to see if the Toronto effect coud be repeated in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. For me it was immediate. I felt the change on the operating table. Since 1992 I was in hospital for periods of time that were getting longer and longer, I try so many meds and reacted well for a time then I had to try something new or retry and old one; I had ECT and I had a lot of talking therapy but even with all that my depression was coming back, always stronger. I don't think it is only a question of will power and pep talk because I have had a lot off that. I was devastated when I had to stopped working because of it. Since the operation, I don't wake up and feel good, every morning There are days when it is more difficult. I am still taking some medication, I am having some therapy but now I can see the difference betwen this is a difficult moment and this is such a black hole and the pain is so awfull that I don't see why I have to stay alive. Depression is and horrible illness and there is a gene associated with it (TreK-1). If you have it and the environment trigger it you fall into the that terrible darkness and I am glad that DBS was there. The following year, after the operation, 3 persons very close to me died, without that DBS help I dont't know if I would be alive. Sometime my doctor need to reajust my setting. As he told me you are number one and we are learning a lot because of you. I Know that phase I is ended but there is a phase II starting. they are recruting new canditates. ANS is involved with St judes hospital in the states. I hope that other people will benefit from that operation that treat the biological side of depression. It gave me the chance to be part of society by doing some voluntering and not spending hospital monney.
  22. Kevin Otto from United States writes: The people who say, "depression is not a disease" or that this is a "bizarre and crude solution" or that it is caused by poor nutrition are quite ignorant and somewhat cruel. This is a huge medical breakthrough and a much needed weapon to fight this devastating disease. I have read that depression is the most disabling of all illnesses and based on my own experiences with it, I agree with that assessment. I'm glad theglobeandmail wrote this article to give much needed hope to those suffering from TRD.

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