Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services

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Psychopharmacology 

What is Vagus Nerve Stimulation?

Robert H. Howland, MD

  • Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 2006;44(8):11-14
  • Posted August 1, 2006

Abstract

EXCERPT

Pharmacotherapy is not effective for some patients, and there is a need for alternative therapies. In contrast to pharmacological treatments, therapeutic brain stimulation involves the electrical modulation of brain function. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one example; vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is another type. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of VNS for refractory epilepsy in 1997 and for refractory depression in 2005. In this article, I describe the concept of VNS. Next month’s article will review the clinical studies of VNS for depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Abstract

EXCERPT

Pharmacotherapy is not effective for some patients, and there is a need for alternative therapies. In contrast to pharmacological treatments, therapeutic brain stimulation involves the electrical modulation of brain function. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one example; vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is another type. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of VNS for refractory epilepsy in 1997 and for refractory depression in 2005. In this article, I describe the concept of VNS. Next month’s article will review the clinical studies of VNS for depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Authors
Dr. Howland is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The author acknowledges grant support from Cyberonics, Inc.

Address correspondence to Robert H. Howland, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; e-mail: HowlandRH@upmc.edu.

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