Vagus Nerve Simulator

A friend of mine called me last week. She had just caught the tail end of a report on the local ABC 7 report on another way to fight depression. She mentioned something about nerve stimulation. I quickly went online to see if the TV station had anything at its site. All it had was a short blurb. I can only imagine that this had to do with the vagus nerve simulator that I read about last year. Apparently doctor A. John Rush, a psychiatrist from the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas was still having good results with his new treatment for depression.
Unfortunately, I was not able to catch that particular news item, but I can share some information on it. The vagus nerve simulator is a generator that is sometimes used to prevent epileptic seizures. The pacemaker-like generator in a person’s chest connects an electrode to the vagus nerve in the neck. That nerve goes to parts of the brain believed to control emotion. The nerve is stimulated for 30 seconds, every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In an earlier pilot study of only 30 patients, 40 percent of the treated patients displayed at least a 50 percent or greater improvement in their condition, according to the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. Half the patients also had at least a 50-percent improvement on the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale. The condition of several patients improved so substantially that they were able to return to work or other normal activities. All the patients who responded to the treatment have continued to do well.

According to the short blurb that I saw on the news website, Dr. Rush is declaring similar results with a new study. Unfortunately, I do not how many people are being tested in the present study.

I do know that some of the anecdotal information is impressive. One woman, for example, had lived with severe depression for years and had been hospitalized four times. She said the fog is now lifted and the results have been remarkable. Let’s hope that future studies bring similar results.