New form of depression therapy in Lincoln

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Story and Photo by Cole Miller, NewsNetNebraska

LINCOLN, Neb.–A revolutionary new treatment for depression is making strides right here in Lincoln. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, also known as TMS helps the brain produce natural feel–good chemicals. And over a period of time, the treatment is helping cure years of depression.

The Neurostar TMS machine has been stimulating Teresa Clark’s brain for the past two months. Clark turned to TMS therapy after her antidepressant medications began to have little effect. She says after 10 sessions, something clicked and she’s never felt this good in 20 years.

“It’s like a light switch, I woke up the next morning and my whole world, everything just changed, for the better absolutely!” Clark said.

Clark received her last dose of treatment last week. In many cases, TMS is used five days a week over a six month period of time. After the initial sessions are out of the way, patients usually receive additional treatment to help, in a way, wean them off of the process.

“The whole process has been just life changing,” Clark said. “I would recommend it to anyone who is currently battling any type of depression and medication isn’t working.”

For others, the process is more gradual. Before therapy, Kim Essman says she spent 20 years living in a cloud of depression. Acting out of desperation, she says the TMS treatment has given her hope and a restored interest in life. She says she’ll never forget the first sign of recovery.

“I walked by somebody at work and they said ‘Hi’ and I said ‘Hi!’ Real loud, like, where’d that come from? and so that really stuck with me,” Essman said.

When Essman first went to inquire on what else could be done to combat her depression, she was a little hesitant when she heard of TMS therapy. The thought of having one concentrated part of her brain electrically stimulated was not very appealing.

But Essman was to the point where she had zero motivation. People would call, she wouldn’t pick up. The doorbell would ring and go unanswered.

After enduring the first round of treatment, which she described as a woodpecker repeatedly striking her head, Essman decided to stick it out and has no regrets.

“I was at an all-time low and was willing to go through just about anything to try and rid of the depression,” Essman said. “It was one of those things where, looking back, was probably one of the best things to ever happen to me.”

Dr. Walt Duffy, a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult licensed psychiatrist with Premier Psychiatric group, said the TMS method has proven very effective in his practice. 70 percent of patients have noticeable results. The treatment, which was approved by the FDA in 2008, sends 3,000 pulses to the brain over a 40 minute session.

The practice came to his office and March and he has completed over 400 sessions of TMS therapy.
‘We are excited to be providing TMS Therapy and to be a part of this major step forward in psychiatry, and medicine.’ said Duffy

And for Duffy, seeing the patient’s life change is a reward all its own.

“It’s very gratifying to see somebody’s life sort of change in a way they interact with others, how they’re feeling their zest for life…if they’re feeling better, anybody else they interact with, family, work and stuff, things are going better,” Duffy said.

TMS treatment is prescribed only when anti–depressants haven’t shown results in patients. Duffy says improvements can be seen in two weeks and many insurance providers cover some of the costs.

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