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Major depression

Major depression is marked by feelings of despair that persist over time. It is the most severe form of the depressive illnesses. According to data from Statistics Canada, about 5% of people suffer from major depression.

Counselling and medication are the most common treatments. Electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation may be prescribed for people who do not respond to these treatments. Sunnybrook researchers are investigating if focused ultrasound might be another option.

Focused ultrasound cingulotomy is a type of noninvasive brain surgery in which the heat generated from high-intensity focused ultrasound is used to make a lesion in the brain structures involved in the disease. No drilling through the skull is required, as with other neuromodulation techniques, which change nerve activity through delivery of electrical stimulation or drugs.

Dr. Nir Lipsman, a scientist and neurosurgeon, and Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, director of Physical Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute, are leading the first North American trial of focused ultrasound cingulotomy in people with major depression for whom other treatments have not worked.

For more information, visit the clinicaltrials.gov website: NCT03421574. If you are interested in participating in the trial, then please contact Anusha Baskaran, research manager, at 416-480-6100, ext. 1650.