Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: The Alternative Therapy for Depression

tms2“Depression for me,” Elaine said. “I describe it like being in a pit. A deep, dark pit.”

Elaine doesn’t want to be identified and for the television interview we distorted her image.

Elaine said things got pretty bad in 1993 when she was diagnosed with major depression.

“I began wondering if life was worth it,” Elaine recalled. “At that point I knew I needed to see somebody.”

She went from one depression medication to another and all had side effects.

“The major side effect that I experienced was the inability to achieve orgasm,” Elaine said.

She figured there had to be a better way and heard about Dr. Louis Costello who is using a treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.”

“TMS is an electromagnetic pulse in MRI strength from a magnate right here,”” Dr. Costello said while he pointed at the side of his assistant Angie’s head. “That puts a powerful pulse through the skull that’s Trans cranial and activates a part of the brain about golf ball sized a few centimeters deep.”

Dr. Costello showed us how it works–basically the pulses stimulate the part of the brain that triggers depression.

“This is not a cure for depression,” Dr. Costello said. “There is no current cure for depression but it’s a very effective treatment that compares very favorably with everything we know about medications.”

When we met Elaine she was 4 weeks in to a 6 week treatment plan. She remembers feeling better almost immediately.

“It was about the 10th day that I noticed a slight improvement,” Elaine said. “I thought maybe I’m convincing myself and I’m not.”

That was on a Friday–listen to how she felt after the weekend.

“On Monday it was almost like I jumped out of bed singing.”

Elaine is now going places, doing things and hanging out with friends.

TMS was approved four years ago by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Costello said about 5% of patients report minor scalp pain–but that’s pretty much it.

Elaine may have to have follow-up treatments but for the first time in a long time–life is getting back to normal.

“It would be wonderful,” Elaine said with a smile. “Absolutely wonderful.”


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