For ten years, Sheila Cook suffered debilitating depression that didn't respond to medication or even electroshock therapy. But now a new surgery has given her relief.
According to the Telegraph, Cook was so depressed and suicidal that her husband had to quit his job to take care of her full-time. When conventional treatments didn't work, she received an experimental one called deep brain stimulation, where wires implanted in the brain tissue deliver an electric current. That worked for a time, but when her depression returned, Cook became one of the first people to undergo a procedure called anterior cingulotomy, a surgery "that involved burning out connections in the brain that were too active." Now Cook has been depression-free for over a year.
Cingulotomies have also been used to treat severe OCD, but some studies indicate they may be even more useful for depression. And though the procedure is invasive (it's brain surgery, after all), it may be an important option for people whose illness just doesn't respond to other methods — 10% of people with depression, the Telegraph notes, are still sick after 3 years. For Cook, it's been a lifesaver — she says, "I'm now rediscovering my family and my wonderful grandchildren so much so that we are now planning to move to be nearer to them. I cannot thank the clinicians and researchers who worked with me enough –- they have given me my life back." And for all of us, her story is a reminder of how severe depression can be and how important it is to develop treatments to beat it.
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