"Can Vagus Nerve Stimulation Help Treat Your Depression?" -Patrick Keeffe
People with depression may experience significant improvements in their quality of life through nerve stimulation, even if their depression symptoms don’t dissipate completely. That’s the conclusion reached by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri. Their findings were announced online last month in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, published by the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology. “Vagus nerve stimulation has been a tremendous amount of help where medications have failed,” said Brian Kopell, MD, director of the center for neuromodulation at the Mount Sinai Health System, who has used VNS to treat epilepsy. “It has a variety of uses, but sometimes it can take a couple of years to work.” Dr. Kopell said, “One of the challenges is that VNS is not paid for by insurance because of the national, non-coverage decision by CMS [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency]. People can’t get it paid for, so it doesn’t get used.” However, Dr. Kopell said, the data coming out of VNS research, such as the Aaronson and Conway studies, has demonstrated VNS can be useful for patients with TRD.
- Brian Kopell, MD, Professor, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Neurology, Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Director, Center of Neuromodulation at Mount Sinai Health System