When I tell people what I do at my new job, I get some puzzled and quizzical looks: “TMS therapy—what’s that?”
Fortunately for them, it’s easy for me to relate. I, too, had no idea what TMS therapy was even three months ago.
TMS therapy, also known as rTMS, stands for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Using a magnetic coil that emits pulses approximately 2.5 cm into the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in the brain, TMS is a game-changer for people who have struggled with antidepressants to manage their depression.
Today, with our constant bombardment of information from numerous sources, it feels strange to be unaware or “out of the loop” about something that is having life-changing results for so many people. One reason TMS therapy is not on many people’s radars is because it’s a newer treatment for depression here in the United States, having been FDA-cleared just ten years ago in 2008.
So why would I take a job when I had never heard of it less than three months ago? Well, it became personal.
Just this year, I learned that a member of my family was diagnosed with depression. Until then, I knew of depression, but it never really affected me. It’s like the phenomenon when you get a new car of a certain make and model. Until you bought that car, you probably didn’t notice all the exact same cars on the road. Now that you own one, you see them everywhere, and wonder, “was I blind?”
No, not really—you simply weren’t looking for them. I feel it’s the same with depression. There are probably people you know who are struggling with depression right now, and because it doesn’t personally affect you, you just don’t see it. When you or someone you love has depression, you start paying attention. You see just how many people it affects around you. The sudden realization can be shocking.
It was equally shocking for me to see this person I love lose their interest in all the activities and hobbies that had previously brought them so much joy and life before depression.
As a new TMS technician, I haven’t had the chance to witness firsthand the benefits in my patients who are currently undergoing their 6-week treatment. What excites me in coming to work are the testimonies I’ve heard from other technicians and patients who have seen and/or experienced the positive results of TMS therapy. It’s the ability to offer hope where hope has been lost.
Sometimes new opportunities come along that seem too good to be true. TMS therapy is not one of them! No, this treatment is a solution that so many have been looking for in their battle with depression. It not only gives hope of freedom from or the ability to reduce depression, it’s a key to unlocking all those life-giving activities that depression has robbed them of. It allows them to regain a sense of identity, be who they were made to be, and engage in their life again instead of drifting aimlessly through the fog from day to day.
As I write this, the sun is shining bright over the San Juan Mountains here in southwestern Colorado. I can’t help but be thankful for a new career that is shining bright like the sun on the snow, and for the people I’ve yet to meet who I’ll walk alongside as they come to life again.