Treatment Resistant Depression

Depression is one of the more common mental disorders and is ranked by the World Health Organization as a leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression is a chronic, debilitating disease and in extreme cases may contribute to people taking their lives.  For some, a depression episode will resolve with anti-depressant medications and psychotherapy treatment.    However, many patients do not achieve remission despite trying multiple medications, psychotherapy, and/or electroconvulsive therapy.  In fact, studies suggest that 50% of depression patients fail to respond after the first being prescribed their first two anti-depressant treatments from different classes over a 2-3 month period.  These patients are believed to have a form of depression known as Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD).

TRD is a more severe and chronic form of depression and patients will suffer a great impairment of their daily activities.  Some people with TRD may have a family history of depression, suggesting a possible hereditary component of the disease.  They are also at a greater risk of hospitalization for their psychiatric illness and are at increased risk of attempting suicide..

For over 8 years, treatments and mechanisms of TRD has been studied at Emory through the Deep Brain Stimulation Clinical Research Program for Treatment Resistant Depression - the first program of its type in the nation.  Emory has emerged as a world leader in the development and testing of deep brain stimulation for TRD, a technique pioneered by Dr. Helen Mayberg.  This research program is unique as it is the only such psychiatry DBS program operating independent of industry sponsored trials.  Sponsored research is ongoing with new studies designed to refine and optimize surgery, and to examine mechanisms mediating the antidepressant effects of DBS.