For two decades, Jill spent one month a year in the hospital trying not to kill herself. Her severe depression was immune to medication and even electroshock therapy. But a silver
dollar-size pulse generator implanted in her chest three years ago seems to have helped. Electrodes from the device wind around the vagus nerve in Jill's neck and zap it with two milliamps of current for 30 seconds every five minutes. Unlike traditional electroshock therapy, this approach, called vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, is targeted at just one part of the brain and uses a very low voltage. The VNS implant, made
by Cyberonics in Houston, is already approved for the treatment of epilepsy and could receive FDA clearance for depression this summer.