Ask the expert: Cutting Edge Technology Treating Depression

Can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work for You?

Kimberly Cress

By Kimberly Cress, M.D., TMS Serenity Center

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 has treated over forty patients with this alternative technology and is one of the first psychiatrists to offer it in the greater Houston area.

But does TMS work?  

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

It was May 2009. My life as I knew it was completely gone. I had no feelings, no emotions about anything. I would see my daughter cry, and there was nothing in me to comfort her. I remember just looking at her and not being able to do anything. I was paralyzed. I could not move. I had severe insomnia, a 50 pound weight loss, absolutely no appetite whatsoever.  My senses of taste and smell were affected also. They didn’t exist either. Every last ounce of joy I had had in my life was ripped away from me by the most horrific disease imaginable. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. Different antidepressants were tried with absolutely no results at all. 

Then one day, I was watching the Debra Duncan show and saw a doctor explaining a new treatment for depression. I saw Dr. Cress and the patient she helped. The patient looked great and had been depressed just like me. I wrote down the name and showed my husband when he got home. I tried to think about it for several weeks and during that time, I knew I never had a chance of getting better. I was desperate. I decided I wanted a first meeting with Dr. Cress and so my husband arranged it. Dr. Cress said I was an ideal candidate for TMS.

So my sessions started in late November 2010 and continued through part of January 2011. I began to feel different after the first week. After six weeks, I remember the first thing I did was drive to the post office to mail a letter. That seems like a trivial thing to most people, but to me it was a giant step forward. I’m not sure how everything happened, but I started to feel better and was looking forward to the future instead of seeing my life as hopeless and bleak. Something changed in me and today, I have more energy, my sleep is better, and I’m no longer on Ambien or any anxiety medication. I do everything I used to do. But, the old Annette isn’t really back. I’m the new and improved Annette, and she is here to stay.

TMS worked to save me from depression. I enjoy life and cannot wait to get up in the morning and plan what I have to do. I enjoy so many things now and see the world completely differently. I look forward to the future instead of dreading it.

– Annette K.

Dear Dr. Cress,

I’m 56 and my doctor has diagnosed me as menopausal and has prescribed hormones to help with the symptoms.  But the one symptom that I can’t deal with is that I feel very sad all of the time, very depressed. I’m not normally a sad or moody person so this is new. My doctor says it will pass once my hormones get regulated but it’s starting to affect my every day life.  Is this common and is there anything that can be done to help with this horrible feeling?

– Shelby H.

Dear Shelby,

Women are twice as likely to have an episode of major depression during perimenopause even if there is no history of major depression. Perimenopause is defined as 2 to 8 years prior to your last menstrual cycle and 1 year after your last menses. It has been speculated that some women may be more vulnerable to developing depression due to intense hormonal fluctuations during this time. Abrupt hormone changes can affect mood and behavior by altering the equilibrium in several neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain. Regarding the risk of depression during menopause, there is less of a risk compared to perimenopause because even though estrogen levels are low, they are stable. If a woman is experiencing intense sadness that is impairing her ability to enjoy life, I would recommend she see her clinician to evaluate for depression. Depression can be effectively treated with antidepressant medication or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Life is too short to not enjoy it.

– Dr. Cress

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