Neurostimulation Broadens Benefits

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December 12, 2013

Depression and chronic migraines are often linked together.  While it is hardly surprising that people struggling with constant pain frequently become depressed, substantial science proves there may be a deeper connection between these pathologies.  We are also discovering neurostimulation may be key in treating migraines and depression. 

A study published in the January 2007 edition of Neurology, by researchers from the University of Toledo Health Science Campus, found that women with chronic migraines were 4 times more likely to develop clinical depression than women with episodic migraines.  Similarly, an earlier study published in the April 2003 edition of Neurology concluded that both migraine and major depression increase the risk for developing the other condition.  Interestingly we are now learning that migraine treatment and depression treatment can be quite similar. 

Implanted neurostimulation has been used to treat chronic pain for over 40 years, and its applications are continuously broadening.   Research is proving this technology not only has the potential to treat intractable migraines, but intractable depression as well.

A recent article on the British news site Telegraph, featured a story about a 53-year-old man who suffered with lifelong crippling depression.   Medication, psychotherapy and even electroconvulsive therapy never helped.  Two years ago, in despair, he underwent an experimental procedure called deep brain stimulation (DPS), which uses neurostimulators to send high frequency electronic impulses into specific regions of the brain.  The study’s lead neurologist at the University of Toronto performed the surgery.  

According to the article, the man is delighted with the results and has finally found relief. This pioneering technology is already being used to help people with not only intractable depression, but also chronic pain and Parkinson’s disease.  Neurostimulation for chronic migraine treatment is less invasive but based on similar technology. 

When applied in treating intractable migraines, neurostimulation leads stimulate the occipital nerves of the peripheral nervous system with gentle electrical impulses.  With research and anecdotal proof that clinical depression and chronic migraine frequently occur together in certain patients, it is exciting to learn that neurostimulation technology can also be the answer for these individuals.  If you suspect you may have depression, getting effective migraine treatment may be a significant step in managing both conditions. 


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