Research has also shown that vagus nerve stimulation could be effective for treating psychiatric conditions that don’t respond to medication. The FDA has approved vagus nerve stimulation for treatment-resistant depression and for cluster headaches. A 2008 study published in the journal Brain Stimulation(opens in new tab)found that vagus nerve stimulation resulted in an improvement in symptoms for patients with treatment-resistant anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
More recently, researchers have been investigating the vagus nerve’s role in treating chronic inflammatory disorders such as sepsis, lung injury, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and diabetes, according to a 2018 review in the Journal of Inflammation Research(opens in new tab). Because the vagus nerve influences the immune system, damage to the nerve may have a role in autoimmune and other disorders.