Study focuses on people not treated effectively with antidepressants
From the WashU School of Medicine News…
People with depression who are treated with nerve stimulation experience significant improvements in quality of life, even when their depression symptoms don’t completely subside, according to results of a national study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The study involved nearly 600 patients with depression that could not be alleviated by four or more antidepressants, taken either separately or in combination. The researchers evaluated vagus nerve stimulators, which send regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve. The nerve originates in the brain, passes through the neck and travels down into the chest and abdomen.
The FDA approved vagus nerve stimulation for treatment-resistant depression in 2005, but there has been a recognition more recently that evaluating only a patient’s antidepressant response to stimulation does not adequately assess quality of life, which was the purpose of this study.
The findings are published online Aug. 21 in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
“When evaluating patients with treatment-resistant depression, we need to focus more on their overall well-being,” said principal investigator Charles R. Conway, MD, a Washington University professor of psychiatry. “A lot of patients are on as many as three, four or five antidepressant medications, and they are just barely getting by. But when you add a vagus nerve stimulator, it really can make a big difference in people’s everyday lives.”
As many as two-thirds of the 14 million Americans with clinical depression aren’t helped by the first antidepressant drug they are prescribed, and up to one-third don’t respond to subsequent attempts with other such drugs.