Drugs have been the go-to therapy for psychiatrists treating depression, but implantable neurostimulators have been making substantial impact lately. A national study headed by a team from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis wanted to find out how well this drug-free technique can control serious depression.
The team evaluated about 600 patients, all of whom had already tried at least four different antidepressants. About half of them had vagus neurostimulators implanted, while the other patients continued to receive other therapies. Impressively, in 10 out of 14 quality of life measures that were assessed, the group treated with neurostimulation did much better. Moreover, subjective anecdotal evidence as witnessed by the clinicians showed marked improvement in how the patients were doing.
It’s not quite clear how the technology actually works to affect people’s mood. Charles R. Conway, MD, a Washington University professor of psychiatry that participated in the study, has a theory. “It improves alertness, and that can reduce anxiety,” he said. “And when a person feels more alert and more energetic and has a better capacity to carry out a daily routine, anxiety and depression levels decline.”
Study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: Chronic Vagus Nerve Stimulation Significantly Improves Quality of Life in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression…