Depression is the Number One Cause of Disability in the United States

According to the World Health Organization, 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the United States and other developed countries are mental disorders, including major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Approximately 23% of American adults each year have a diagnosable mental disorder and as many as 5.4% of American adults have a serious mental illness.

Depression has received increased attention recently because of the growing recognition of itsprevalence. Once misunderstood and stigmatized, depression now is regarded as a biological condition. Management of depressed patients increasingly involves healthcare professionals other than psychiatrists. To assist these healthcare professionals, this article provides a basic description of depression and describes currently available pharmacotherapies for treating depression, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Neurostimulation is the next frontier in the treatment of chronic depression. The FDA is expected to approve vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment for chronic depression within the next thirty days. You can learn more about this remarkable therapy at

Vagus nerve stimulation is a ninety-minute out-patient procedure performed by a surgeon. A prescription by your psychiatrist is required. The vagus nerve stimulator is pacemaker-like device implanted in the patient's upper left chest. One lead wire is tunneled underneath the skin and coiled around the left vagus nerve in the neck. It is not related to brain surgery or shock therapy and is more effective than ECT.

Charles Donovan was a patient in the FDA investigational trial for vagus nerve stimulation and depression. He testified to the Panel at the Advisory Meeting on June 15th. After 25 years of chronic depression, vagus nerve stimulation completely cured his chronic depression. The author is so grateful and humbled by this remarkable device. He is the founder of the web site.

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