How does vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) treat depression?

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Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a procedure that may help treat depression by electrically stimulating the parts of your brain that affect mood. Your doctor may recommend VNS if traditional depression treatments and electroconvulsive therapy have failed to relieve your symptoms.

With VNS, you first undergo surgery to place a device called a pulse generator into your chest. A wire attached to the device is pushed under your skin and attached in the neck area to the vagus nerve, which runs to the brain. The VNS device sends safe, regular electrical pulses to the nerve to stimulate brain areas that control mood.

Continue Learning about Depression Treatment

Depression Treatment

Depression Treatment

Because it is a multi-faceted condition, treatment for depression is multi-faceted as well. Minor depression can often be treated with therapy and a few simple lifestyle changes, while chronic or major depression treatment can req...

uire medication in addition to therapy. In some severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used. It's important to work with your mental health professional to determine which course of treatment for your type of depression is most appropriate.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.