Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) for Depression
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) is an option for people with severe, treatment-resistant depression.
VNS involves implanting a small electrical generator in your chest, like a pacemaker. The device is attached with wires to the vagus nerve, which runs from the neck into the brain. Once implanted, the device sends electrical pulses to the vagus nerve every few seconds. The pulses are then delivered via the vagus nerve to the area of the brain thought to regulate mood. The electrical charges may change the balance of chemicals in your brain and relieve depression.
The device must be implanted by a surgeon, but patients can usually go home the same day.
Alternative Treatments for Depression
Some people use herbs, supplements, and other alternative therapies for depression. However, none of these approaches has been proven to work. Supplements -- like SAMe and St. John's wort -- can have side effects and cause interactions with other medicines. Never start taking a supplement without talking to your doctor first.
Other alternative treatments -- like acupuncture, hypnosis, and meditation -- may help some people with their symptoms. Since they have few risks, you might want to try them, provided that your health care provider says it's OK.