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Evidence to Improve Care

Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression


Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendations

  • The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee is unable to recommend the use of deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression at this time because:

    • The device is not licensed in Canada for treatment-resistant depression.

    • The evidence suggests a beneficial effect of deep brain stimulation in treatment-resistant depression; however, this conclusion is based on very low quality of evidence.

  • If Health Canada licenses the product for treatment-resistant depression in Canada, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee will consider reviewing the technology again, if requested to do so.

Read the full OHTAC Recommendation report



Depression is a serious problem. More than 1 in 10 Canadians report having symptoms of depression over their lifetime. Depression is usually treated with drugs or counselling, but sometimes treatment doesn’t work as well as it should.


Health Quality Ontario Reviews Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression

Deep brain stimulation delivers small electrical pulses to certain parts of the brain. A surgeon put tiny electrodes in the patient’s brain, and then connects them to a small transmitter that gets implanted just below the patient’s collarbone.


Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Preliminary Evidence Review (PDF)
August 2013


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The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has accepted this recommendation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Ministry has no current plans to fund this treatment for this purpose.




Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.



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