Implantable pacemaker-like device sends pulses to the brain to treat chronic depression

ved for the treatment for some patients with epilepsy in 1997, and is now the first treatment specifically studied and approved for treatment-resistant depression.

Major depressive disorder is one of the most prevalent and serious illnesses in the U.S., affecting nearly 19 million Americans every year. Of those, 20 percent, or approximately four million people, experience depression that does not respond to multiple antidepressant treatments. For these people, treatment may attempts may have included psychotherapy, antidepressant medications and sometimes electro-convulsive therapy, but they are effective for a short while and stop working over time.

"Patients with TRD need additional options," said Zajecka. "The availability of VNS Therapy is an important treatment option for millions of people who, until now, have not had access to a proven long-term option to control depressive symptoms. It is especially important to know that clinical study results have shown that patients achieve increasing benefits from VNS Therapy over time and experience sustained results. Additionally, VNS Therapy is very tolerable, and side effects typically diminish over time." Three percent of patients in the clinical trial experienced side effects of incision pain; voice alteration; incision site redness/itching, pain around the device and swelling and tenderness.

Zajecka says that in clinical studies of VNS Therapy, more than half of the patients who had experienced an average of 25 years of major depressive disorder and multiple treatment trials realized some clinical benefit, one third of the patients had at least a 50 percent improvement in their depression. One out of six patients were depression-free after one to two years of treatment with VNS Therapy. Patients also reported significant improvements in quality-of-life areas, such as vitality, mental health, emotional well-being and social functioning.

Patients seeking more information should ca

Contact: Mary Ann Schultz
Rush University Medical Center

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