How We're Using Tech to Combat Depression

Depression impacts millions. Now, with FDA green light, we're working on deep brain stimulation to fight it.

Pain and Movement|Jul.27, 2022

The scientific and medical community has made huge strides in the research, treatment and understanding of depression in recent decades.

From life-changing therapies to on-demand psychological counseling in your pocket, there are options for many of those battling major depressive disorder (MDD), AKA clinical depression, to get back to their healthiest lives.

But what happens if treatments fail?

For an estimated 2.8 million of the total 16.1 million depressed U.S. adults, treatment-resistant depression (TRD), a form of depression that does not respond to four forms of treatment, is their reality. Even worse, each failed treatment decreases their likelihood of their symptoms reducing, and there aren't currently many options available for them.

Depression takes a devastating toll. That’s why we're forging ahead with  recognized breakthrough research and development to expedite the review of innovative technology and ultimately aim to offer meaningful improvement in not only their symptoms, but their lives overall.

Here are three things you need to know about TRD and what we're doing to combat it.

1.    What TRD is, exactly?

As the name says, treatment-resistant depression is depression that is resistant to treatment. Those who are diagnosed with TRD commonly don't respond (or inadequately respond) to four traditional trials of antidepressant pharmacotherapy (medication) that are adequate in dose, duration and compliance. Other therapeutic methods such as counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy often don’t alleviate severe symptoms either.

2.    Symptoms of TRD

Those with TRD can often feel hopeless or worthless. Symptoms of depression — such as irritability, loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, lack of energy, feelings of sadness and suicidal ideation — are difficult enough to endure. But after each failed treatment, people with TRD may feel that there is no end to what they're going through. And by a fourth failed treatment, as many as 83% of people with TRD will relapse.

3.    How deep brain stimulation (DBS) could help

Deep brain stimulation is a personalized, adjustable therapy that involves implanting thin wires — or leads — in targeted areas of the brain to send electrical impulses that can modulate abnormal brain activity. Our Infinity DBS System has changed the lives of those living with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease and essential tremor for years, alleviating their symptoms and helping them resume healthy lives anytime, anywhere* where approved with our NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic.

Now, we're learning more about how DBS could become a safe and effective treatment option for those with TRD, helping decrease their symptoms. The FDA has granted Breakthrough Device Designation so that we can investigate deeper into the safety and effectiveness of our DBS System for TRD, making it a potential new treatment option much sooner for those who need it.

Until every person living with treatment resistant depression has a solution that enables them to live happily and healthily, we'll be innovating.

*Anywhere with a cellular or Wi-Fi connection and sufficiently charged patient controller.




Brief Summary: Prior to using these devices, please review the User’s Guide for a complete listing of indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, potential adverse events, and directions for use. The system is intended to be used with leads and associated extensions that are compatible with the system

Indications for Use: Bilateral stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) or the internal globus pallidus (GPi) as an adjunctive therapy to reduce some of the symptoms of advanced levodopa-responsive Parkinson’s disease that are not adequately controlled by medications, and unilateral or bilateral stimulation of the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus for the suppression of disabling upper extremity tremor in adult essential tremor patients whose tremor is not adequately controlled by medications and where the tremor constitutes a significant functional disability.

Contraindications: Patients who are unable to operate the system or for whom test stimulation is unsuccessful.  Diathermy, electroshock therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are contraindicated for patients with a deep brain stimulation system.

Warnings/Precautions: Return of symptoms due to abrupt cessation of stimulation (rebound effect), excessive or low frequency stimulation, risk of depression and suicide, implanted cardiac systems or other active implantable devices, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electromagnetic interference (EMI), proximity to electrosurgery devices and high-output ultrasonics and lithotripsy, ultrasonic scanning equipment, external defibrillators, and therapeutic radiation, therapeutic magnets, radiofrequency sources, explosive or flammable gases, theft detectors and metal screening devices, case damage, activities requiring excessive twisting or stretching, operation of machinery and equipment, and pregnancy.  Loss of coordination is a possible side effect of DBS Therapy, exercise caution when doing activities requiring coordination (for example, swimming), and exercise caution when bathing. Patients who are poor surgical risks, with multiple illnesses, or with active general infections should not be implanted.

Adverse Effects: Loss of therapeutic benefit or decreased therapeutic response, painful stimulation, persistent pain around the implanted parts (e.g. along the extension path in the neck), worsening of motor impairment, paresis, dystonia, sensory disturbance or impairment, speech or language impairment, and cognitive impairment.  Surgical risks include intracranial hemorrhage, stroke, paralysis, and death. Other complications may include seizures and infection. User’s Guide must be reviewed for detailed disclosure.

To review the full Important Safety Information (ISI), please click HERE.