Deep Brain Stimulation and Electroconvulsive Therapy: What are they?

Deep Brain Stimulation and Electroconvulsive Therapy: What are they?

By Emily Ferrer

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a brain surgery involving the implantation of electrodes in certain areas of the brain to treat different movement disorders such as OCD, dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy as well as other disorders such as depression and drug addiction[1]. These electrodes produce electrical impulses to regulate certain brain functions[2] and are controlled by a pacemaker-like device. This pacemaker is placed in your chest with a wire that runs from the pacemaker to the electrodes that were inserted into your brain[3]. The parts of the brain that the electrodes are inserted into are specific to the patient and their specific symptoms. For example, for a patient who suffers from severe OCD the electrodes would be placed in an area of the brain called the ventral capsule/ventral striatum, which has been found to be very effective for patients suffering from treatment resistant OCD at about a 61.5% positive response rate[4].

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a medical treatment usually preformed on patients who suffer from severe clinical depression and are treatment resistant to other options to help their condition[5]. The treatment involves small electric currents being passed externally through the patient’s skull between the voltage ranges of 180 to 460 volts. While there is still much controversy and incorrectly portrayed media about this procedure, it is significantly safer today than it was almost 100 years ago. The patient is put under general anesthesia at a hospital during the entire treatment and wakes up after not feeling anything from the procedure. The only thing patients feel after the completion of the treatment is an increase in positive mood. A study done in 2007 revealed that out of the patients who did and did not receive ECT for their treatment resistant depression, 71% of the participants in the experimental group, that received ECT,  found they had a positive response. This is significant when compared to the control group, who did not receive ECT, where only 28% of the participants found they had a positive response to just antidepressant medication[6].  ECT has gained a lot of popularity recently because of how quickly and effectively you feel the effects after a few treatments. The positive effects increase even more quickly when combined with psychotherapy in between the ECT treatments.

If you or someone you know is experiencing OCD or major depressive disorder and are interesting in pursuing these treatments, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit









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