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Carilion Clinic Participates in Largest Depression Clinical Trial in History

Carilion Clinic is the only health system in Virginia participating in RECOVER, a national clinical trial that may make Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) treatment more widely available for people who have difficult to treat depression (DTD).

This is a collaboration between Psychiatry & Psychology and Neurosurgery. Mark Witcher, M.D. PhD. recently implanted the first VNS device and as the principal investigator for this research, Anita Kablinger, M.D. will follow participants throughout the study.

VNS is sometimes referred to as a pacemaker for the brain and the benefits of the device are measured in years, not weeks.

“Although VNS has been an FDA-approved treatment for DTD since 2005, Medicare has not covered this treatment option and many insurers have not routinely provided coverage,” said Dr. Kablinger. “The RECOVER trial will assess the benefits of VNS for DTD in the Medicare population to provide evidence that may lead to stronger insurance coverage, including Medicare.”

Carilion is one of 100 U.S. medical centers participating in the largest depression study of its kind.

“Participating in the RECOVER clinical trial is an exciting opportunity for patients suffering with difficult to treat depression. From a neurosurgery standpoint, it’s a relatively minimally invasive procedure that can make all the difference for patients. Partnering with the department psychology and psychiatry in this research is an excellent example of collaboration at its best. Hopefully, the results of this trial will lead to broader availability of VNS treatments for people with depression,” said Dr. Witcher.

One in three patients with depression have DTD or difficult-to-treat depression, necessitating the exploration of further potential treatment options.

Learn more about participating in the RECOVER study with Carilion here.

Fast Facts

  • Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide
  • 1 in 3 patients with depression have DTD
  • 19.00% of adults are experiencing a mental illness (over 47 million Americans)
  • Virginia ranks 18th in the nation for prevalence of mental illness

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