Brain stimulation used to fight depression

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation showing great promise


Millions of people are diagnosed with clinical depression every year.

There are a number of medications to help fight it, and there are many great doctors to help treat it.

Now there is another weapon to help fight depression.

It isn't invasive, it isn't a drug, but it does go straight to the source of the problem: the brain.

For Gretchen Towry, this new treatment -- transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS -- has been a life-saver.

She has been married to her husband, John Towry, for 34 years. They have raised a family and have overcome her heart attack and cancer diagnosis. 

But their toughest challenge has been Gretchen's fight with depression.

"I don't have the energy to get up and take a shower. By the time I'm finished with the shower, I am ready to go back to bed," she said.

Depression isn't just a problem for the person going through it. Depression has an impact on everyone around them. 

For Gretchen's husband, John, it was difficult to watch her go through it.

"I love her, and I care for her very much. I wanted to see her get back to the way she was before the depression," he said.

For some people like Gretchen, depression is a serious, debilitating mental disorder. 

Psychiatrist Dr. Ted Williams says he sees it all too often.

"When people become depressed, their view of themselves, their world, and their future changes to be overly negative," Williams said.

Gretchen tried several medications and therapies, but said nothing worked for her until she tried TMS. It is a helmet that sends electrical impulses into the brain, rewiring broken connections.

"It stimulates that one part of the brain in depressed patients that doesn't show much activity. It wakes it up, and causes it to re-grow connections and then has a downstream effect on other parts of the brain," Williams said.

You can hear a thumping sound when the impulses are delivered to the brain. 

"It's just a woodpecker tapping on my head," Gretchen said.

She said the process is not painful, and the tapping is something she gets used to.

TMS is an FDA-approved treatment that takes 30 minutes. It's performed five days a week for about six weeks. 

Williams reports seeing remarkable success with it.

"TMS will be used more and more and more, because not only is it effective, it has very few side effects," he said.

TMS is not shock therapy, and is performed in the doctor's office. 

For Gretchen, it has worked when nothing else has, and she says it has given her back her life.

"I can get up and take a shower, and just keep going now. It feels good to laugh and giggle again," she said.

For more information about TMS, visit William's website at www.genesispsychiatric.com.

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