I came across this post in alt.support.depression.medication and explains better than me the treatment for acupunture. A needle is placed in the neck and head and is stimulated with a mild electric current:
> I have a request.
> I know this topic has been discussed in the past, but I would rather
> slog through google to find it. It leaves me with less time chatting
> you fine folks.
> What do you know about VNS?
> This is directed to any of you.
Its just another experimental "MIBS" treatment for refractory
depression. Like rTMS, Deep Brain Stimulation...they are all in the
same basic category. MIBS stands for "Minimally Invasive Brain
Stimulation." Thats an acronym I think the neuropsychiatry people came
up with to try to shut down any comparisons with past psychosurgery
(lobotomy). Cause as you well know, most people are very nervous about
any kind of surgery for mental disorders.
Its been FDA approved for refractory epilepsy for a long time now...has
a good reputation for refractory epilepsy. What happened, was the
doctors started noticing in these patients getting the implant for
refractory epilepsy that their moods were lifting from the VNS
stimulation. So the company that makes the implant started thinking
about using it for refractory depression.
So what happened was the company that makes the implant hired Dr. Mark
George, MD of MUSC (Neuropsychiatry) to try implanting a VNS pacemaker
into a guy who was severely refractorily depressed. I mean he had tried
ECT, all the meds, psychotherapy, everything. I first heard about VNS
long before it was in the regular media, because not long after that
first implant at MUSC for refractory depression, I enrolled in a
clinical trial for refractory depression that used rTMS. I went thru
that trial...a whole month it lasted over March and July 99. It was
basically a big long vacation in Charleston, SC for me. (I still had my
credit cards then
So I could do things then still.
OT: Youd be surprised how green coastal SC is even in the wintertime.
The MUSC Brain stimulation lab staff told me about it there in 99 and
Dr. George actually did a little over a weeks worth of my rTMS and I
talked to him a little about it and other things like functional
Basically, its gotten a bad reputation for refractory depression from
the things I read. Its kind of hit or miss. From what I read the side
effects arent too bad, but it just doesnt work that great. A lot like
rTMS...rTMS doesnt work too great either. Neither have the
effectiveness of conventional ECT. The FDA turned it down last summer
or fall, I cant remember the exact date but it was in the second half
of 2004 and the company that makes it, Cyberonics is appealing the
FDA's decision and I read today that the final decision will be January
It works by sending a mild electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve,
which controls a whole bunch of CNS functions. This stimulation forces
your seizure threshhold to go up, making it harder to have seizures.
Thus its effectiveness for epilepsy. And thats what ECT does
also...pushes your seizure threshhold up real high. Thats one of the
problems shock docs start having after youve had so many ECTs, they can
start having problems making you have an ECT induced seizure.
There is some connection obviously between pushing up the seizure
threshhold and getting rid of certain forms of serious mental illness.
Basically thats what the VNS implant does.
My prediction is that the FDA will turn down Cyberonics again and it
wont be FDA approved and will never get to market for psychiatric
purposes. But I could be wrong, who knows. Im skeptical and cynical
though. I also dont think it works good.