Way before HIPAA existed, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists were trained to protect the identity of their patients, and this certainly included testimonials. Times have changed, and patient testimonials are ubiquitous. In considering this, I think it’s due to two factors.
First, the stigma of mental health and depression in general has changed. Fifty years ago, the public view was that depression was caused by some form of moral weakness. Countless times patients have expressed their concern that their depression was due to moral defect, to which I would respond if I had wanted to treat moral weakness, I would have become a priest. Although the mental health stigma that includes depression still exists today, the use of antidepressants and the public’s more general understanding of the biological and biochemical aspects of depression have resulted in stigmatization of patients who suffer depression.
I also believe that the reduction, or amelioration of, depressive symptoms is so profound with patients receiving TMS that they want to share their knowledge of how beneficial TMS treatment can be with other patients that, in my practice, routinely say to put them on a list as someone who would give testimonies or even talk individually to patients considering having TMS. For those of us utilizing TMS, we see changes that can be nothing short of miraculous in a short period of time. The change can be so dramatic that not only family, but therapists can be astounded at the change.
I once treated an adolescent that had to undergo extensive pre/post psychological evaluation, and the patient was severely depressed. When this patient returned from post-TMS treatment assessment, the therapist called me and asked if I was playing a trick on them. They thought I had sent in an identical twin that the assessor had not known about, because the change in the patient was so great, she did not think this could have possibly occurred within that period of time.
I had been treating a very nice patient with very significant depression for a while before the decision was reached for her to try TMS. The patient was an artist, and during that time leading up to treatment, she had shown me a self-portrait of herself depicting the degree of depression she had.
As one can see, the artist captures the significant impact depression had on her in her daily existence. The patient underwent successful TMS treatment and after several months being sure her results weren’t placebo and had durability, the patient did another self-portrait as seen below.
I believe it’s hard in testimonials for a patient to convey the depth and disruption of depression when they are feeling good after treatment. These two self-portraits show a clear and meaningful difference in the life of a patient who suffered from depression and how she felt afterwards.
Results like this are what bring physicians and technicians back to work daily because the change can be very powerful. The improvement is so great that I must temper my enthusiasm by always saying twice in a discussion about TMS that 25-30% of the patients have no response because nothing in medicine is 100%. Yet when TMS works, it is a beautiful thing to see.
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