Severe chronic depression can impair the quality of life and lead to death by suicide; the lifetime risk of suicide among patients with affective disorders ranges from 6% to 15%. Major depressive disorder (MDE) also increases the mortality associated with general medical conditions. A considerable number of depressive patients, especially elderly ones, do not respond to or remit during psychpharmacological or psychotherapeutical interventions resulting in an increasing interest in non-pharmacological strategies to treat affective disorders. A broad variety of brain stimulation techniques are currently being assessed as novel therapeutic interventions beside the well established electroconvulsive therapy. These neuromodulatory methods include repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, direct current stimulation, magnetic seizure therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation. Although these novel therapeutic techniques hold considerable promise, there still will be need to further develop them before they achieve clinical acceptability.
Keywords: Eletroconvulsive therapy, treatment-refractory depression, magnetic seizure therapy, repetitive transmagnetic stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation
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