Vagus Nerve Stimulator & Depression
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Q:  Vagus Nerve Stimulator & Depression

I am a medication resistant patient with major depression and generalized anxiety. I have heard good things about the Vagus Stimulator and was wondering if you knew of any studies in the Chicagoland area for either the Vagus Stimulator or any other treatments for medication resistant   patients.   I spoke with Rush University and they told me that the Vagus  Stimulator study had been completed and the other studies, like the electro- agnetic study and the drug studies are double blind studies and having had attempted suicide on 4 occasions, both I and the people involved in the study felt it would be best if I did not participate. Any help you could give me would be very much appreciated. 
Thank you,

Dear Mr. W' --
Well, seems a bit odd, writing here on a bipolar website about your medication resistant major depression and generalized anxiety, which has been quite severe; so I hope that at some point someone has wondered whether you could have a "bipolar component" and tried treatments accordingly.  As you may have seen on my website about bipolar variations that are not clearly bipolar I (here's the
intro page), and in the essay therein about how anxiety and bipolar disorder, there is reason to connect mood and anxiety conditions and use that to guide treatment, in some people.  So I hope that such a line of thought has been considered as an explanation for your symptoms.  Although in some ways I also hope it has not, because if that's the case, then there's clearly an approach to treatment with many options to be explored, that you haven't had yet! 

The vagus nerves stimulator is worth considering if the main problem is depression.  It appears to be "another antidepressant" to try, though in this case, much harder to access and obviously a much bigger deal to go through than trying a new pill.  So, my main message to you is to make sure that what you need is "another antidepressant trial" and not a trial of something else.  

Seems like you've figured out that finding your way into a research study is unlikely; and so will have to be considering other ways to get access to whatever treatment you and your doctors decide is the next thing to try.  Good luck with that. 

Dr. Phelps

Published December, 2004


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