Can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work for You?

Kimberly Cress

By Kimberly Cress, M.D.

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 am a 47 year old man with a beautiful wife and family. I distinctly remember my first experience with depression. I was 15 years old, enjoying time with my friends on a beautiful summer day. As we walked across a parking lot, I felt a dark cloud envelope me. I wondered what was wrong with me. How could I go from laughing and joking to suddenly feeling so bad? The bad feeling persisted and got much worse. 

I can only remember a few brief moments where I was free of depression. Each morning I would wake up and within minutes feel like ending my life. I constantly fought a war with my mind to keep things in perspective, be positive, and bear with the emotional torture. I hid my depression very well, to the point where people would describe me as positive and enthusiastic. I had surface success in church, school, work, and marriage. However, I was a fake. Under all of the external trappings, I was barely holding myself together. By the age of 38, I was completely exhausted from this dual life, and my life collapsed around me. Within 7 years, I was barely hanging onto my job, divorced, jailed, committed, and taking a virtual cornucopia of medications. I felt like a zombie with no hope and no future. By early 2010, I was on a delicate balance of medications to maintain some semblance of normality. However, work pressures were making it very difficult to cope. The medications had various side effects, the worst of which was the emotional flattening that made life very dull and absorbed off of my motivation. 

One of the most remarkable individuals in my life is Dr. Kimberly Cress.  She recommended that I could benefit from TMS Therapy. At first, I was highly skeptical. I had obviously tried everything before to rid myself of this torment. My thinking was that if I could just get a little relief, it would be worth it. After the second week of treatment I started to “roller coaster” with ups and downs. I noticed a change in my sleep pattern where I seemed to feel more refreshed in the morning. After 4 weeks, I began to experience sustained non-depressive episodes much longer than I had experienced since I was 16. My emotions began to untangle, and I could feel joy separate from anger separate from sadness. I could cope better because I was no longer exhausting myself trying to manage my depression.

By the end of the treatments, I had experienced a full two weeks free from depression. My biggest issue during the time was “waiting for the shoe to drop” – the anticipation of my depression returning with a vengeance at any moment. Dr. Cress reassured me that I may indeed experience sadness or depression like healthy people, but that it would fade in a few hours, and she was right. I cannot express in words the significance of the change that I experienced in a few weeks.

–  Nigel S.

Ask the Expert:

Dear Dr. Cress,

Nothing has changed in my life over the past forty years except for now.  I’ve been in the same career, same family, same town and always enjoyed life. Now, I find myself struggling to get through the day.  I’ve been to my doctor and he tells me all is well health wise – I just don’t feel happy or motivated. I have no health issues, no trials to speak of – I just don’t care to do anything – even the day to day necessities. Could I be suffering from depression?

-Jack C.

Jack,

Depression impacts roughly 15 million individuals each year and without treatment, can lead to debilitating effects that decrease a person’s quality of life.  The dynamics of such an incapacitating illness negatively impacts all aspects of life and impairs functioning if not treated early or efficiently.  Although the exact cause of depression is unknown, genetic and environmental factors play a role.  Depression often times disrupts an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, and physical health, especially during times of increased stress.

Jack, when these emotions are compromised, the well being and motivation of an individual relentlessly suffer.  The cyclic nature of depression is difficult to overcome without intervention, especially once chemical changes within the brain have occurred; chemical responses to stress eventually become automatic regardless of the presence or absence of a stressful trigger.  Depression is a treatable condition, and it can be effectively treated with antidepressant medication or Transcranial Magnet Stimulation (TMS).  Don’t spend another minute needlessly struggling to get through the day.  With proper help, you can enjoy life again.

– Dr. Kimberly Cress