Your Healthy Family: Patient with severe depression shares experience with TMS treatment

Posted at 9:48 AM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-11 11:13:56-04

In this Your Healthy Family we’re talking more about a newer treatment for severe depression, called rTMS.  In our first story we explained the basics of how using MRI signals on the brain can help people dealing with severe depression.

For this story we sat down with a woman who we will call Mary.  Mary has battled severe depression for 20 years, and is concerned about being identified because of the stigma that can surround mental illness.

Mary describes her symptoms like this, “It’s an overwhelming feeling.  I can’t see any positives going on in my life.  There’s nothing out there for me to be grateful for.  Everything is a huge effort because I have overwhelming fatigue.”

For Mary daily life when her depression is at its worst is a never ending cycle.  “I go to bed exhausted and I wake up in the morning exhausted.  I plow through the day exhausted go to bed exhausted again.”

Over the years Mary has reached out to medical and mental health experts for help.  She has been on many medications. At one point she turned to electroconvulsive treatment, that she now calls the worst decision she ever made.

Then in her search for help, Mary came across rTMS, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.  Dr. John Fleming, with the Southern Colorado TMS Center in Colorado Springs, is a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association who is currently treating Mary.

Dr. Fleming says, while rTMS is a newer treatment that is cleared by the FDA for severe depression, “It’s still concerning to me that a lot of patients, and even doctors haven’t heard about this treatment.  The American Psychiatric Association guidelines for the treatment of depression published in 2010 say that rTMS should be used as a treatment when patients have failed even a single trial medication, so this is very much mainstream.”

Mary says her response to rTMS has been significant.  “This morning I could see the sun rise, and as it was coming up I felt very blessed.  When I decided to open my eyes there was this lovely pink rose blue hue to the horizon through the trees.  It was a really nice thing to wake up to. I would not appreciate that before rTMS.”

If you have questions reach out to a mental health professional, or the folks at the Southern Colorado TMS Center to learn more about rTMS.