Janelle, a MindPath TMS patient generously shared her recovery story with us in hopes of inspiring others. She explains that she was experiencing severe depression with little hope for recovery. “I was hospitalized twice in 4 months, had meds changed, and had very little relief. I was supposed to graduate this past May with my MSW, but had to make the agonizing decision to take a leave of absence, a decision that reinforced the feeling that I was a piece of s***. I also had to take a leave from work, and with the pandemic, [saw] my fast and demanding life grinded to a halt.”
For many people who live with depression, a combination of medication and psychotherapy are effective ways to mitigate symptoms and increase quality of life. However, some people, especially people living with severe depression have not found those treatment options to be effective. This is where TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy can help. In this article we will share more information about TMS, as well as Janelle’s testimonial story.
Janelle shared that she is thrilled by the contrast of her life today compared to where she was a year ago before treatment began. “You know, I kinda surprised myself today,” she writes. “I noticed that I am kinda happy now. I thought about where I was about this time last year. The thing I thought about most was dying. It was the only thing I wanted…I fantasized about it, researched easy and painless ways, was constantly distracted by it. I struggled with every aspect of my life because of the depression that consumed me and told me I was a piece of s***.”
MindPath’s TMS Director, Sandeep Vaishnavi, MD, PHD explains that, “TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation…the technology is basically a way of using magnetic pulses to directly impact the brain. What we’re doing with TMS is that we’re actually directly stimulating different circuits in the brain. Now this technology has been around for a number of years…and it’s been used on thousands of patients across the country and indeed the whole world with a lot of good results.”
After Janelle’s life came to a halt due to her severe depression and the pandemic, she found that she “had no choice but to sit still and be present with the black beast that controlled [her]. It was pretty bleak for a while, but [she] eventually found healing in stillness and meditation, in gardening, in running. But it still wasn’t enough. The beast [of depression] was still there, just a little weaker.”
In June 2020 though, everything changed for her, when she was “blessed with approval from [her] insurance company to begin TMS therapy.”
Dr. Vaishnavi explains what TMS treatment looks like. This non-invasive, non-medication treatment is not painful for the vast majority of patients, often with only minimal discomfort. Dr. Vaishnavi shares that TMS is “an ongoing treatment, in that is that it is five days a week for six weeks typically. Then there’s a weaning period over the next three weeks. Each session is typically around 20 minutes or so and the first time that we do TMS we do personalize it to each individual so we basically find the right strength of the magnet and the exact right location of the magnet for that individual. We then check on that on a weekly basis because different things like your amount of sleep or medications can change the strength of the magnet that we need to use so we can look at that on a weekly basis, but, overall, typically each session is twenty minutes and five days a week for six weeks, as I mentioned. Then in the seventh week we typically have three sessions, then in the eighth week typically two sessions and then one session in the last week. It’s basically three-two-one sessions over three weeks at the end of the six-week initial treatment.”
After TMS Therapy
For Janelle, she saw dramatic changes in her life after a little over 6 weeks of treatment. She shared with us that the real miracle of her treatment, “the thing that caught my attention – was the fact that, as [people in my life have] pointed out, I really was smiling and laughing more. I was feeling and being brave. I was discovering joy in activities I used to enjoy, and even being courageous to start new activities, like unicycling (which still a disaster there, but [I’m] having fun anyway).”
Janelle has found that TMS therapy has helped her get her life back and has renewed her desire to be alive. “That’s what surprised me. I like waking up in the mornings. I like going to work. I like being around people and I don’t feel like a burden to them. I like to laugh and smile and now it isn’t so hard to do that. I start school again in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to it. I like laughing at myself when I try to unicycle, because, dude. It. Is. Hard. The most important thing that I am coming to realize is that I like myself and I like my life. I’m not ‘cured’ of depression, probably never will be, but I finally have that…beast out of my way and out of the driver’s seat.”
Dr. Vaishnavi explains that TMS therapy is very effective, with long-lasting, ongoing benefits for patients. “ have very good results. I mentioned overall the results kind of nationwide and in terms of clinical trials two thirds of patients can have significant improvement. Our treatment results are actually well above that and so we’re very proud of that and very happy about that and we want to have the best quality program possible.”
For Janelle, TMS treatment has revitalized her life. On a recent Fb post, she invited friends and loved ones to, “Join me in celebrating a second chance at life.”
Note: Janelle has given us permission to share her story. There has been no compensation received by her for this testimonial. This review describes only one person’s experience and is not a guarantee, promise, or reflection of the feelings of every patient.