Vagus Nerve Stimulator as an Anti Depression Device
Anti depression tools are rare.
There is, of course, therapy. Electroshock therapy can sometimes be effective but has largely fallen out of favor. Otherwise, those treating depression is limited to the use of antidepressant pharmaceuticals to deal with the disorder. After those three options are exhausted, few alternatives exist. That may soon change. The United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is considering approving the vagus nerve stimulator, an electronic device that is implanted in the chest of a patient, as a means of tackling depression.
The nerve stimulator is somewhat akin to a pacemaker. Wires run from it to the neck, where a nerve connected to the brain in stimulated. The vagus nerve stimulator has been used to treat epilepsy, but now its manufacturer is arguing that it can be used to effectively as an anti depression tool for many patients who appear to be resistant to medications.
The issue of approving the vagus nerve stimulator for use in combating depression is somewhat controversial.
Critics complain that there is little hard evidence to suggest that the device has a significant chance of success. They point to studies that question whether the vagus nerve stimulator is a more effective anti depression tool than placebos. They also note that even the proponents of the stimulator are not even sure why the product might serve an anti depression function. In fairness, the critics will concede that the same study did show a significant improvement in mood and disposition for some patients. Most, however, did not experience a notable change in their condition. Only seventeen of over one hundred participants in one study noted any positive change. Among who underwent and implant but never had the device turned on, eleven reported improved moods. Backed by testimonials by those who found the nerve stimulator to be a credible anti depression tool and a paucity of alternative treatment regimens for those who are medically-resistance, the device is inching closer and closer to approval despite the somewhat shaky nature of available evidence.
There seems to be limited negative repercussions associated with the use of the vagus nerve stimulator. This means; in situations where other interventions have failed, it may be an option worth pursuing. Depression is a growing epidemic, and the limited number of treatment tools available to practitioners to treat the disorder can be problematic, especially in cases where a depressed patient fails to respond to the use of popular antidepressant medications. All predictions indicate that the number of depression diagnoses will continue to move upward at a rapid pace. In the near future, another tool may be available to deal with depression: the vagus nerve stimulator.
Although the overall effectiveness of the implant is still in question, its effectiveness for some patients may encourage its “last case” used for some patients seeking an anti depression product.