Dr. Sheth measures the treatment’s success by collecting information about the severity of symptoms. “We measure response using standard depression symptom scales, like the Hamilton Depression Scale,” says Dr. Sheth, of the questionnaire to gauge the severity of one’s depression. “For Vito, his score has come down significantly — by more than half — after DBS, which classifies him as a ‘full responder.’ That doesn’t mean that he’s symptom-free, but rather that he’s much better, and can at least function closer and closer to how he was before his depression set in.”
Today, the electrodes in Vito’s brain are always on. The battery will last about three to four years. Dr. Sheth can eventually perform a 30-minute outpatient surgery to replace the device in Vito’s chest without touching the electrodes in the brain. The device stays in indefinitely, as long as the therapy is beneficial. It’s not a magic bullet, and Vito still struggles, but it is an aid that has helped him get on the right track.
“I have to force myself every single day to do something,” he says. “I might force myself to do something for a half-hour, but [now] I find I can do it for 45 minutes, an hour, or longer.”
Looking ahead, Vito hopes to return to the workforce.
“I am catching up on all of the projects I had around the house, including finishing our basement,” he says. “My goal is to ease back into some type of work within the next six months, even if it’s part time.”
“Depression is debilitating not only mentally but physically as well,” Vito says. “Before, I couldn’t do simple things like mow the lawn, or just leaving the house some days was an overwhelming task.
“Now I’m able to do everyday activities that most people take for granted. And I’m trying to make up for lost time with my daughters. I feel like I’ve missed out on so much of their lives, and this is giving me an opportunity to reconnect with them.”
“Despite Vito’s illness, we’ve had a good life, but at times, it’s been an uphill battle to say the least,” says Kathy. “I feel like we have a new lease on life, and we’re doing things as a couple and a family that we were never truly able to enjoy before.”