Can Vagus Nerve Stimulation Improve Mental Health?

Dr. Scott Aaronson, one of the senior psychiatrists participating in the clinical trial and scientific director of the Institute for Advanced Diagnosis and Therapies, said the device could be particularly useful for people with disabilities. People with bipolar depression, the center in Sheppard Pratt Psychiatric Hospital aims to help people who are not improving with conventional treatments and medications.

All in all, one of the problems with treating depression “is that we have a lot of drugs that have the same effect,” says Dr. Aaronson. And when patients don’t respond to those drugs, “we don’t have much of a novelty.”

However, Vagus nerve stimulation is currently not accessible to most people, as insurance companies have so far refused to pay for the procedure, with the exception of Medicare recipients participating in the trial. Latest clinical.

Dr. Andrew H. Miller, director of Dr. Tracey’s Research Institute, uses stimulation of the internal vagus nerve to treat inflammation, which may also have applications for psychiatric disorders such as PTSD. Program in Behavioral Immunology at Emory University, who studies how the brain and immune system interact, and how those interactions can contribute to stress and depression.

PTSD is characterized by measures of increased inflammation in the blood, he says, “which can affect the circuits in the brain associated with anxiety.”

In a pilot study at Emory, for example, researchers electronically stimulated the neck skin near the vagus nerve in 16 people, eight of whom received vagus nerve stimulation and eight in some of them received sham treatment. The researchers found that stimulant treatment reduced the inflammatory response to stress and was associated with a reduction in PTSD symptoms, suggesting that such stimulation may be helpful for some patients, including including those with high inflammatory biomarkers.

Meanwhile, Dr. Porges and his colleagues at the University of Florida have patented a method of modulating vagus nerve electrical stimulation based on the patient’s physiology. He is currently working with Evren Technologies, of which he is a shareholder, to develop an external medical device using this approach for PTSD patients.

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