Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Innovation To Treat Severe Depression


People around the world have realized the amount of damage people with depression go through, and in order to build a better world for them, medically-assisted innovations are being brought to the table.

Depression or severe depression has always been a subject of debate from a long time now. Different countries treat the subject differently. People belonging to the developed countries, also known a the educated ones, treat depression like any other severe disease. While on the other hand, the under-developed and developing states, mostly the Eastern side of the world, is still confused whether depression is real or not.

Belonging to a progressing country like Pakistan, I’ve often heard bizarre definitions of ‘depression’ here. Let’s not go too far, even in my friends and family circle I’ve heard people saying things like, “ Depression is nothing it’s all in your (patient’s) mind”, “Depression is just superstition”, even I’ve heard one elderly-woman stating that depressed individuals are affected with nazr-e-bad (evil eye). While all these definitions might seem super-stupid to an educated person, but the reality is that people unaware of the disease are the culprits who made this severe disease a joke. We can go on this for a long time but first, let’s talk about the recent innovation made in the medical world to treat depression.

Vagus Nerve Stimulator: Device To Improve Quality Of Life For Patients With Untreatable Depression


People with treatment-resistant depression, also known as severe kind of depression, is regarded with the term ‘clinical’ depression in the medical world.

There are a variety of treatments for people diagnosed with depression, but the severest kind of depression, which, unfortunately, is becoming the common-one, is often left untreatable.

Most of the time, patients with treatment-resistant depression turn to neurostimulation in search of quality of life. Vagus, our subject of study in today’s health blog, is a type of neurostimulation, also known as vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

How Does VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation) Work?

According to Medical News Today, the VNS is a device that is fitted in the patient’s chest or neck, under the skin. These devices send pulses of electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve, which starts in the brain, goes through the neck, and ends in the chest and abdomen.

The real question now arises here is that, does VNS really work? Did it help people in achieving quality they were once deprived of due to their health state?

We searched and found a news regarding VNS and its functioning, here goes the details:

Vagus Nerve Stimulator Made A Great Difference In Patients’ Lives – Study Claims:

A recent health study was published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, which was the result of the research conducted to test the VNS and its effect on patients’ with depression lives.

The researchers involved in the study were led by Dr. Charles R. Conway, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

According to Dr. Charles R. Conway and his team, the VNS did brilliantly well for the patients with treatment-resistant depression.

They examined 600 people with treatment-resistant depression in their study. All the participants had tried four or more than four antidepressants pills, that went unsuccessful before making their way to VNS.

The patients were divided into two groups, consisting of:

  • 328 patients with treatment-resistant depression who had a vagus nerve stimulator
  • 271 study participants who only received “treatment as usual.”

In order to judge which treatment was doing better for the patients involved in severe-depression, Dr. Conway created a chart of with following measures.

The performance of treatment was judged on  14 parameters that involved; perceived physical health”, ability to work, ability to get around, mood, family relationships, leisure activities, overall well-being and so on.

“On About 10 Of The 14 Measures, Those With Vagus Nerve Stimulator Did Better”

The study led by a team of researchers found out that patients with vagus nerve stimulator did better than people treated with usual depression treatment. The usual depression treatment involves antidepressants, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electroconvulsive therapy, and psychotherapy.

So now that we know how researchers around the world are keen towards this subject, Its high-time for us to start taking depression as a serious and alarming disease.

By Maira Feroz

A journalism student who's studying the native form of journalism but is performing it in the digital way.