Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for major depressive episodes: One year outcomes

Lauren B. Marangell, A. John Rush, Mark S. George, Harold A. Sackeim, Christopher R. Johnson, Mustafa M. Husain, Ziad Nahas, Sarah H. Lisanby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


Background: Vagus nerve stimulation has shown promising results in an open, acute phase pilot study of adults in a treatment-resistant major depressive episode. This open, naturalistic follow-up study was conducted to determine whether the initial promising effects were sustained, and whether changes in function would be observed. Methods: Thirty adult outpatients in a treatment-resistant, nonpsychotic major depressive episode received an additional 9 months of vagus nerve stimulation treatment following exit from the 3-month acute study. Changes in psychotropic medications and vagus nerve stimulation stimulus parameters were allowed during this longer-term follow-up study. A priori definitions were used to define response (≥ 50% reduction in baseline Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression total score) and remission (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression ≤ 10). Results: The response rate was sustained [40% (12/30) to 46% (13/28); p = .317] and the remission rate significantly increased [17% (5/30) to 29% (8/28); p = .045] with an additional 9 months of long-term vagus nerve stimulation treatment after exit from the acute study (1 year total vagus nerve stimulation treatment). Significant improvements in function between acute study exit and the 1-year follow-up assessment as measured by the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 were observed. Conclusions: Longer-term vagus nerve stimulation treatment was associated with sustained symptomatic benefit and sustained or enhanced functional status in this naturalistic follow-up study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-287
Number of pages8
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Grant support was received from Cyberonics, Inc. Portions of this work were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 11, 2000.


  • Bipolar depression
  • Depression
  • Maintenance
  • Treatment
  • Treatment-resistant
  • Vagus nerve stimulation


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