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Pacemaker for Depression: But Does it Work?

Posted Oct 01 2008 10:28pm

Eight months ago the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a pocket-watch-sized device billed as "a pacemaker for the brain," the newest cutting-edge treatment for as many as 4 million adults whose severe depression is not relieved by psychotherapy, drugs or even shock treatments.

Since then, more than 550 Americans have undergone surgery to have a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implanted in their chests to activate parts of their brains. However, the only rigorous clinical trial of the device -- which is approved to treat severe epilepsy -- failed to demonstrate effectiveness in alleviating depression.

What happened to evidence-based medicine?
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