Deep brain stimulation is currently used to treat a handful of serious illnesses, but research into how it can be used in other ways is currently in progress.
For all too long, mental illness has been treated as something less serious than physical illness. That since a disease or an issue doesn't physically manifest itself, it isn't deemed as important as something anyone and everyone can see. While a physical illness or disability is usually obvious to even the layman and mental disorders are not, that doesn't make the latter less serious.
When it comes to treating disorders of the mind and brain, we might well be on the cusp of the next medical breakthrough. Deep brain stimulation (DBS). You might well have heard of DBS before. That's because the innovative treatment has already been FDA-approved to be used to fight a handful of illnesses. Again, issues that tend to physically show themselves to the world such as Parkinson's, epilepsy, and dystonia.
NPR reports that new research currently underway wants to make further use of DBS. To use it to treat mental health issues such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. James Giordano, chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program at Georgetown University Medical Center, has explained how exactly this process works, and whether the ongoing research has warranted any positive results.
Electrodes are used to target and stimulate extremely small areas of brain cells. These electrodes can then be modified and tweaked in order to hopefully change the activity of those brain cells and thus, ease someone's depression, OCD, or Tourette's syndrome. Apparently, the results have been mixed so far. Some subjects have reported back feeling much better while others have felt no change at all, and some made to feel even worse.
Reportedly though, overall, the results are promising. What DBS will potentially open the door to over time is people using it to change their mood or outlook on life, regardless of whether they are suffering from an illness or not. Want to be more outgoing? Perhaps DBS can sort that for you. It's an incredibly interesting yet profoundly dangerous path to go down and sounds like something lifted straight out of a science-fiction movie.