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Vagal Nerve Stimulation for Depression


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I would be willing to consider it, myself, if therapy and meds aren't cutting it a few years down the line.  I dislike the thought of undergoing surgery (and women in my family tend to have weird reactions to anesthesia), but I would readily hop up onto the operating table if it came down to that or ten more years of emotional pain and suffering.  Life's too short, and precious, to expend too much of it hanging onto a thread and a prayer.

You might want to consider cross-posting this subject to the depression board, by the way.

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I've heard of it. I don't have any plans on getting it anytime soon, but I've heard of it.

And yes, the idea of a switch for mood--the stimulator can be turned off if need be--is intriguing. When I first heard them described on dr-bob.org, I pictured something where a cord comes out of one's neck. Turns out that's not the case.

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I don't know much about it, Rhonda, but I think there was a fairly robust thread about it on the old forum. I'm pretty sure it was also on the "Whatever works" board, but it could have been the depression one.

From everything you've said here, I would definitely encourage you to look into it. It could be your silver bullet. I would caution you that FDA approval is hard to predict. I know this from my recent Lunesta experience. For four months the manufacturer was saying "available next month." I just don't want you to be disappointed if it's not available within a month.

If the results are good, my guess is that insurance companies will quickly approve it. Most of us are on $500 worth of meds a month (or more). The savings would very quickly add up.

Keep us posted!

~Sunshine

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Oh, I care very much about it.  I have been tracking its progress with the FDA for over a year now.  They rejected it last August.  They submitted another application and received an approvable letter, but they have not been given an approval letter yet.  Cyberonics wrote in their email updates that they expected late May.  It has been past the typical time period for a decision, but atleast they have not rejected it.

Katie

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And yes, the idea of a switch for mood--the stimulator can be turned off if need be--is intriguing.
Why would you want to turn it off?  I have to admit I'm perplexed, trying to figure out why, if the implant makes you undepressed, you'd want to start feeling depressed again. 

Maybe I'm not understanding the mechanics of this thing.

I'm very excited about it and if I can, plan to have it done ASAP.

Go Rhonda, Go Rhonda, Go Rhonda  ;) I think I'm starting to get excited for you!  Hope you'll keep us updated.

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And yes, the idea of a switch for mood--the stimulator can be turned off if need be--is intriguing.

Why would you want to turn it off?  I have to admit I'm perplexed, trying to figure out why, if the implant makes you undepressed, you'd want to start feeling depressed again. 

Maybe I'm not understanding the mechanics of this thing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I remember reading, in a copy-n-pasted article on dr-bob.org, that it can screw up things that are done with the throat. Like swallowing and singing.

So far, I have found one post that mentions vocal shakiness...wait, here it is. Okay, maybe not.

It's at the beginning of that thread.

During the 30-second zaps, the implant can cause temporary hoarseness in about 30 percent

to 40 percent of patients. Rush said few were bothered by the little voice breaks, but said one

patient who sang in her church choir did turn off the stimulator while singing.

I think I skushed those last two posts got misremembered as one.

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  • 1 month later...

I have worked with 2 kids with seizure disorders who got a VNS and my friend's brother got one for his epilepsy. The VNS was effective for all 3--reduced frequency and severity of seizures. My friend's brother ended up having to have his removed b/c his body kept attacking it, resulting in infections. For the other two kids, though, it was an easy surgery, despite one of the kids having chronic respiratory and swallowing problems. I could hear the VNS pulse if the kids made sounds (kids were nonverbal) while the VNS went off.

I would certainly consider it for depression, but I would like to see more research that it is effective (though anticonvulsants help MI issues so it would make sense).

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  • 4 weeks later...
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  • 11 months later...

Hi you all. Oe of my keys is ot workig. Guess you ca figure out which oe it is. This is Rhoda, aka SushieOutside. Had a series of ECT ad forgot my password. Guess I eed to talk to a admi.

I did get the VS. It is ot a cure all ut almost like a miracle, got me out of bed, off the couch ad talkig to frieds agai.

More later whe I get the key fixed.

A.M. Thaks for beig forward! eeded it! :-)

Rhoda

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  • 1 year later...

:)

Gosh, this is an old thread, I apologize for not responding. I seem to have lost it and forgot about it.

I had the VNS implanted about two years ago. The local hospital surgeon missed the Vagus nerve and I had to go to another city to have it corrected.

It is hard to tell whether or not the VNS has contributed to reducing my depression or not. Three months after it was implanted, I started suddenly being more able to get out of bed and do a little more. Nothing miraculous. Not long after that I went back down and stayed down. (until this past Fall Season with the addition of Lamictal).

The VNS causes a terrible hoarseness when it comes on at regular intervals. It causes shortness of breath upon exertion. Sometimes, I have difficulty swallowing. I have a fading two inch scar horizontally close to the bottom of the neck and left of the wind pipe. That has never bothered me.

There is only one Pdoc. in my state that has experience with it. Luckily, he is in my city. He no longer takes patients but will adjust the VNS for people with a referral, which I am In the process of obtaining.

The personnel at the hospital where I first had it implanted no longer performs the surgery. I'm curious about the reason. I'm also curious whether the other hospital still performs them or not.

I haven't done much study of it on the internet lately but I've gleaned somewhere that the clinical trials have not been as successful as hoped.

It appears that there are a number of people that have benefited from it but I think the majority have not. It appears that they have not yet ascertained the best setting for depression. It may vary from person to person. I don't know. My last Pdoc. and I have only played with the settings a couple of times and it seems with very little benefit, if at all.

I have not lost hope in it and hope to learn more about it when I visit the Pdoc. with more experience in it.

I would not rule it out for someone who has tried everything. I understand that the mostly severely,chronically depressed patients benefit the most. Just not me YET!

I know that there is research being done for alternative treatments for treatment resistant severe depression. My Pdoc. recommended that I check out deep brain stimulation. Uhhh...not quite yet. I'm not yet keen on having a hole screwed through my skull and someone fiddling with my brain YET! ;) Also, there are significant risks involved.

Sincerely,

Sunshine Outside

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This treatment has been out there for awhile but it does not seem like a lot of people have gone through it, don't have a clue if it is available where i am, this alone would keep me away from it. Thanks for the update.

take care

trg247

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  • 2 months later...

I am seriously considering getting this device. Not for depression, but for the myoclus I suffer. My new pdoc has several patients with them and most have had success. He said he'd pass my phone number on to them if I wanted more information. I'm not sure how much they suffer from depression though. I can't remember because my memory sucks.

However, all three have Narcolepsy and have had success. I have not found much info on it regarding Narcolepsy, but I'd try anything that may help it and my epileptic myoclonic seizures. He did mention they all suffered some throat scratchiness though. Obviously, he thinks very highly of the procedure and is quite comfortable with it. I will call him and ask if he has any patient using it soley for depression. Then I'll post for everyone and if possible speak to those people so I can pass on more info.

For the record, I am a very weird case. I have an aneurysm and cannot take normal stimulants for my Narcolepsy. The only thing I can take is Parnate, an MAO inhibitor. It also helps control the myoclonus because they use MAOs to treat many movement disorders like Parkinson's. It also helps my cataplexy. So, for these reasons, I'm thinking of being a guinea pig and going for it. I have not discussed it with my neurologist or sleep specialist yet, but am planning to.

I'd say if you've tried all the ADs and still have had no success, this is something to think about. Hopefully, they will learn how to set the thing to help depression, but I'm sure it will need some tinkering.

Btw, I see a pdoc for my Parnate since neither my neurologist nor my sleep specialist has ever used it and are not comfortable Rxing it to me since they have no experience with that drug.

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