Major depression is a common and disabling brain condition marked not only by the presence of depressed mood but also by its effects on sleep, energy, decision-making, memory and thoughts of death or of suicide.
Major depression affects 15 million adults in the U.S., and the World Health Organization projects that by 2020, it will be the largest contributor to disability in the world after heart disease.
While antidepressants have helped many to recover and resume their lives, only 30 percent of patients will experience full remission with the first medication they use. Patients typically move on to try a series of other antidepressants. A persistent problem with such drugs has been major side effects, including obesity, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, drowsiness and nausea.
Now, a unique new therapy that applies electrical stimulation to a major nerve emanating from the brain is showing promise.