It was since 1997, epilepsy is being successfully treated with the help of a pacemaker-type device — Vagus Nerve Stimulation therapy, or VNS. But, VNS could also treat people who suffer from clinical depression, a study by the Food and Drug Administration revealed. But, the sadder part of it is major insurance companies have denied families coverage for VNS. This is because, it is claimed that not enough studies have been done on the technology to merit full coverage. Mark Wright, spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, said this as his company’s official stance on VNS. It is only United HealthCare, Empire BCBS and Cigna that approve VNS therapy reimbursement on a case-by-case basis, — among 90 of the biggest insurance providers.
If no treatment is helpful to fight depression, a brain implant may help. But it can take long duration to show the benefits of the implant. According to the researchers of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the vagus nerve stimulators (VNS) showed some positive signs within three months. The researchers also analyzed both, the brain changes and mood improvements in the patients at the same time. The FDA has approved the vagus nerve stimulator for use in patients with severe treatment resistant depression last year. The implant discharges tiny electrical pulses and motivate the brain. However, experts are not completely aware that how it helps to reduce depression. Earlier, the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) had also been experimented but produced short-lived benefits.
Bipolar disorder or manic depression patients, most of the times, find medications that simply do not work. They are treatment-resistant. The vagus nerve stimulator has proved as a better treatment device for maniac depression. A patient, Lauri Ticas, who finally opted for the device, said, depression used to control me, now I control the depression. The vagus nerve stimulator has been available for eight years for the treatment of epilepsy. The Food and Drug Administration recommended its use for chronic or recurrent treatment-resistant depression and bipolar disorder. VNS may be an option for patients who are unable to take any of the psychiatric medications due to bad side effects. Cyberonics, the manufacturer of the vagus nerve stimulator, says that the cost of device $15,000 and with implantation, cost goes to $25,000.
A new pocket-watch-sized device that is also called as ‘a pacemaker for the brain’ is developed to provide better treatment to the patients of depression. FDA has been approved it eight months before and since then more than 550 Americans have implanted a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) in their chests to stimulate parts of brain Cyberonics, the manufacturer of the device are waiting for the approval of the insurance companies for the operation of seven thousand another people who are in the list. VNS is the first device to get approval provided another options to patients whose severe depression is not treated by psychotherapy or even shock treatments. The device is a battery-operated generator attached to an electrode implanted in the vagus nerve in the neck. The generator releases constant electric pulses. The pulses stimulate serotonin and some other brain chemicals that are supposed to normalize mood.