Doctors have also used tiny devices similar to pacemakers to help epileptics avoid seizures, and to keep people from over-eating. Well, now the FDA is getting ready to approve a pacemaker for depression. We read about this in Wired magazine.
20 years ago, a researcher at Temple University discovered he could eliminate epileptic seizures by stimulating the vagus nerve--It's a nerve that runs up the left side of the neck, and controls speech and swallowing, among other things.
Since then, almost 30-thousand people with epilepsy have gotten implants that stimulate the vagus nerve. But there was an interesting side effect. Many epileptics with the device reported that they felt happier. So, researchers took a closer look. And they discovered that sending tiny jolts of electricity into the vagus nerve can also boost your mood.
In fact, a recent study found that half the chronically depressed patients who didn't cheer up when they were on drugs, felt better with the Vagus Nerve Stimulator.
At the moment, the FDA is considering approving the device to treat depression. Which means it won't be available at your doctor's office for awhile. But we'll keep an eye on their progress, and keep you posted.