Many people with epilepsy don't respond to anti-seizure drugs. Vagus nerve stimulation may be an option to reduce the frequency of seizures in people who haven't been helped by medications.

Vagus nerve stimulation may also be helpful for people who haven't responded to standard depression treatments, such as antidepressant medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

When vagus nerve stimulation may be a good option

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved vagus nerve stimulation for people who:

  • Are 12 and older
  • Have focal (partial) epilepsy
  • Have seizures that aren't well controlled with medications

In addition, the FDA has approved vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of depression in adults who:

  • Have chronic, hard-to-treat depression (treatment-resistant depression)
  • Haven't improved after trying four or more medications or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or both
  • Continue standard depression treatments along with vagus nerve stimulation
Dec. 04, 2012