Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Therapy
- VNS (vagus nerve stimulation) therapy is a well-studied treatment that is already approved by the FDA for people with treatment-resistant depression. Despite this, Medicare and other insurers do not routinely cover it.
- VNS therapy was approved by the FDA in 2005 as a safe and effective add-on treatment for people with treatment-resistant depression. The VNS therapy system works to reduce the symptoms of your depression by sending electrical pulses to a nerve that goes to the brain. This nerve is called the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is connected to areas of the brain associated with controlling the mood.
- The VNS therapy System includes an implantable generator, an implantable wire lead (connecting the generator to the left vagus nerve), and a multiprogrammable computer and wand that allows the implanted generator to be programmed. Once the VNS system is active, it generates electrical pulses; these pulses use the natural pathways in your body to travel up to your brain and help you feel better.
- The RECOVER study was designed in partnership with many of the nation’s top experts in treatment resistant depression, and approved by Medicare, to provide additional evidence of the benefit of VNS therapy. If the results confirm previous studies, Medicare and other insurers may start to cover it.
- Right now, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso is actively looking for patients to participate in the RECOVER study.
- People who participate in RECOVER will receive VNS therapy and all study-related care at no cost to them.
To join the RECOVER study, you must be 18 years or older and:
- Currently depressed.
- Have depression, or bipolar depression, that has lasted for at least two years or recurred several times.
- Have tried at least four types of antidepressant treatments and not found them helpful.