Ask the Expert: Cutting Edge Technology Treating Depression


Can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work for You?

By Kimberly Cress, M.D.

TMS Serenity Center

Kimberly Cress

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a new alternative treatment for individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder without the traditional side effects seen in antidepressants. Dr. Kimberly Cress is one of the first psychiatrists to offer  this alternative technology in the greater Houston area.

But does TMS work?  

Let’s see what one of Dr. Cress’ patients has to say:

I have been suffering with depression for over ten years. I would stay in bed all the time, avoid people as much as possible . When I was with other people, I was able to fake being okay for a while, but the pretense was exhausting. It seemed like I was always getting sick, and my whole body hurt. My mind was foggy. My emotions were numb. It took a great effort to drag myself up and do anything, sometimes not showering or brushing my teeth for more than a week.

I have tried lots of different medications, therapy, and even an inpatient clinic. Some things didn’t work at all and some were partially helpful. I’ve been seeing Dr. Cress for a long time, and she has been wonderful. She made a lot of progress getting me out of the deepest depression. She always listens, coordinates with my other doctors and therapist, and seeks my opinions on treatment. She never settled for just partial improvement. I have always been inspired by her confidence that we would find something that really works.

TMS made the difference between feeling “not as bad” to feeling good. I had been depressed for so long, I wasn’t even aware of some of the things still missing in my life. I smile a lot now. I startled myself when I first laughed out loud. I am more aware of things and find myself thinking how pretty some flowers are or how cute a little kid is. After spending a day with my father-in-law, he said that I talked to him more that one day than I had in the last five years. Before TMS, the medication had gotten me out of the worst of the depression, but I was always vulnerable. Any stress or illness would drag me down to worse depression. Now if I have a bad day, I can keep it in perspective. I can perk up again quickly. After a few weeks of TMS, I remember thinking one day that the arthritis in my hands was bad. Then I realized it wasn’t any worse, I just noticed it because the rest of my body didn’t ache any more. It only hurt where there was a real reason.

Roxane is wonderful and makes the whole process very easy. It may seem like a long treatment time, but it goes by fast. The tapping didn’t bother me at all, and I actually fell asleep for a lot of my sessions. I am so glad I tried the TMS. It has made a big difference in my life. – Anne F.

Ask the Expert…

Do you have a question about mental health?

Dear Dr. Cress,

I had my first child 6 months ago, and while I’m thrilled at being a new mom, I can’t seem to get past great feelings of being completely overwhelmed.  My anxiety level has increased so much since having the baby, and I’m just not at all myself.  My husband frequently asks me if I’m sad, and I guess I am.  I know I’m supposed tow be happy, but I just can’t seem to feel joy or look forward to the next day.  I’ve read about postpartum depression, but it sounds so severe.  I can still function – I just don’t want to most days.  Does postpartum occur in women in varying degrees?  Is it possible that I could be suffering from it?

– Janice S.

Janice,

It can be overwhelming whether having your first or your third child. Postpartum blues is present in 50 to 85% of moms. During the blues, women can feel sad, anxious, tearful and/or irritable. These symptoms can be present for hours to days but remit spontaneously within 2 weeks after delivery and no treatment is recommended. Postpartum blues can develop into postpartum depression especially in women who have a history of major depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) begins within the first 3 months after delivery. The symptoms present in PPD are similar to the symptoms seen in major depression. Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a 10-item questionnaire that can be used to help identify PPD. A score of 12 or greater or if thoughts of suicide are present then this raises concern of the need for a more thorough evaluation by a physician. The scale is available on my website at www.tmsserenitycenter.com.

Janice, all mood disorders can exist in varying degrees. I encourage individuals to seek evaluation by their physician if their mood is preventing them from being able to function. Don’t let more time pass and allow your mood to prevent you from enjoying your baby and congratulations!

– Dr. Kimberly Cress