We may be well into July, but May was Mental Health Awareness month, but just because the month is over, doesn't mean the problem has gone away. The news is full of celebrities, athletes and people we know dealing with depression and other forms of mental illness. Lately news of suicides of well known, highly visible people have taken over the headlines. According to the American Society for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, with over 44,000 Americans dying each year.
If you look deeper at the underlying roots of suicide, according to Mental Health America, depression is the leading cause for 30-70% of these deaths. It's fairly accurate to say that depression is literally killing us, at huge numbers, at a huge cost financially, and at an even greater cost to those left behind and affected by their loss.
With the World Clock ticking, there are currently about 7.6 billion people in the world. More than 300 million of these people worldwide are living with depression. Until about 2008, medication and talk therapy have been the most effective treatments for patients. That was the year the FDA cleared NeuroStar's TMS Therapy® device for treating medication resistant depression.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), An estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.
In a recent article in Men's Health, "I Tried Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Cure My Depression. Here's What Happened", one man tells MensHealth.com, about treating his depression with a new (and controversial) form of therapy. Author Jordyn Taylor notes that when traditional treatments don't work, in what is called "first-line" treatments, "some people with depression turn to brain stimulation therapies. One such treatment is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which uses a pulsed magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells - or neurons - in the regions of the brain that regulate mood. When stimulated, the neurons release neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are otherwise depleted in people with depression."
Insanity as a working definition is often quoted in various versions - and rightly or wrongly attributed to Einstein, Franklin, Twain or a Chinese proverb as "doing the same thing over (and over) and expecting a different result". When you've been in depression, in counseling, in therapy, under medication, and you've been doing these treatments for years expecting to get better, to get well, to get your life back…and it isn't happening, maybe it's time to try something truly different. Not a different drug, not more talk therapy, but something technologically different -- enter TMS Therapy.
Christopher Blackburn, CEO and co-founder of TMS Solutions notes that "the NeuroStar FDA-cleared device used in TMS Solutions' 5 locations in Colorado and Washington, has well over 1.5 million treatments logged, without the side effects from medication (as well as the medications then used to reduce those depression medication side effects). Quite simply, treating depression with pharmacotherapy is a mess. Oftentimes, the result of that treatment is a person in a worse state of mental health or someone who is dealing with the physical side effects of these drugs."
The Men's Health article is written from the perspective of Benjamin, in his mid-twenties. "The story is similar to those our TMS Solutions' doctors and technicians hear on a daily basis," Blackburn adds.
- Depression came upon them (many times this happens as an adolescent)
- They realized they were depressed and got help
- They attempted various types of treatment and or medication(s)
- They were forced to face a reality where things just weren't working as they hoped or one where the side effects were intolerable
- They wanted their life back and were willing to try something new to make that happen
Benjamin's story began with anxiety, then medication for the anxiety, then depression set in. Blackburn observed that "while these two illnesses don't always travel together, they sure can, and it can create a one-two gut punch to a person's life. What's more, depression also reaches into the lives of those they love and care about and can have a devastating effect on jobs and careers".
Benjamin is quoted as saying, "Anxiety is like, I can't handle it. Depression is more like, I don't care. The best way to describe it is just kind of wandering aimlessly through life with no enjoyment. I lost sight of myself. I couldn't really figure out who I was anymore. I wasn't enjoying the activities that made me me: I ran in high school, but I didn't want to go outside or exercise. Music was also a huge part of my high school career, but I didn't want to do anything."
This may sound familiar to many suffering from depression. Hope does some strange things, and with this hope Benjamin did something about his depression. With the guidance of his doctor he tried something out of the box. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS. While some consider this treatment controversial, it has proven a lifesaver for many who have undergone TMS Therapy. Blackburn notes that their "patients experience a 50% remission rate and an 80% response rate, which means that they see a reduction in at least half of their symptoms. Not only does this translate to feeling less depressed, but it also means that they are able to reduce the amount of medications they are taking to manage that depression - these are both wins."
At the outset Benjamin had some healthy skepticism and didn't expect, as he said, "a Cinderella" storybook outcome, but the results sound transformative. Here is his voice, his words, from the article, where he says it was a bit rough and uncomfortable at first.
"Going into this, I knew it wasn't going to be a magical Cinderella transformation, but I definitely feel like a newer person. In the beginning, I started feeling more moments of happiness, but there were also some days where I didn't know if it was working or not - but it could have been the depression talking. It really took a lot of my closest friends and family to start noticing these differences. I talk with my dad, and he's like, "Your demeanor has changed. You just sound happier." My best friend at work, she's like, "Yeah, you just look better - even as far as your posture goes, just the way you carry yourself." I'm feeling like myself again. After these treatments, I feel like I'm more connected with myself and the world around me, and I can truly say that I'm happy with myself. I like me. It took a long time to get to that point because, throughout the depression, I kind of hated myself. I hated life, and I hated who I was. Now I have a lot more clarity - I'm even thinking about my future.
Interestingly enough, I've been entertaining the idea of going into the mental health field. I don't know exactly what I'd do, but I just like the idea of helping people with depression or other mental illnesses. I want to give people the hope that I was given - to tell people it's okay, this isn't a forever thing. You can overcome this."
Christopher Blackburn smiles as he reads this outcome. "This is why I do this, why we founded TMS Solutions. TMS Therapy is life-changing and life-giving, in the sense of getting your life and vitality back. I love these stories, I love seeing these patients get back what they thought was lost!"
To learn more about TMS and learn if you or someone you care about might benefit from it, click the button below.