My name is Dr. Robert McMullen, and I’m a psychiatrist with over 30 years of experience. After I had graduated from Georgetown Medical School, I performed my residency at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. My main focus of practice is psychopharmacology, meaning that I specialize in finding the right medicine to treat depression, panic attacks, bipolar illness, schizophrenia and other psychological illness.
What Options Are Available to Treat Depression
Everyone responds to treatment differently, so it is often necessary to try many different treatments or combination of treatments to find the most relief. Some of the possible courses of action will include:
- nutritional supplements,
- and anti-depressants.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) (Depression Treatment Device)
Psychotherapy is always my first preferred method to treat depression. For those who don’t respond to psychotherapy, dietary changes, and a healthier lifestyle provide relief for many when combined with the appropriate anti-depressants. But there are very few patients that receive almost no benefit from psychotherapy or medications, so about six years ago I decided to add TMS – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – to my practice.
What is TMS?
TMS is a completely drug-free treatment for depression. Instead of using chemicals to change the neurotransmitters in our brains, it stimulates the brain in various areas using a powerful magnetic field. Most often an excitatory treatment is applied on the left side of the brain, and an inhibitory treatment is given to the right side, resulting in a gradual improvement of symptoms.
How Does It Work? At the moment, we only have theories as to why TMS works. In another article, we will address some of those theories, but suffice it to say that about fifty percent of patients recover fully after about thirty treatments with TMS. Much more will experience significant improvement with their treatments.
When other medical treatments and anti-depressants fail for more than five years, the chances that the next medication will work are very small. Even the most powerful anti-depressant, MAO inhibitors, will likely fail to bring the person to full recovery after failing so many other treatments. This is why TMS can be such a revolutionary treatment.
Here are a few of the most specific benefits of TMS when compared to other treatments:
- Long Lasting: Not only is it long-lasting, but it works for so many when years of other treatments have failed. Usually, a patient who chooses TMS will still take their prescription anti-depressants, but the medicine will now be working at 100% effectiveness instead of only 50% effectiveness, and without a relapse to depression for very long periods of time.
- Less Follow Up Treatment is Needed: If the patient does experience a relapse, they will only need a few treatments, instead of a full course of 30, to get back to their top condition.
- Virtually No Side Effects: Another revolutionary aspect of the Depression Treatment Device treatment is that it has so few side effects. Antidepressants always cause side effects, making it difficult to add other courses of treatment without exacerbating them. The only side effects we with a witness with TMS are an occasional headache, and very, very rarely a patient will have a seizure. This happens in only about one out of ten thousand cases. We have never witnessed a seizure at our practice, and in the few cases where a seizure has occurred, it has not been very dangerous.
- Virtually No Down Time: Most people who have the treatment can go about the rest of their day immediately after leaving the office. Those who do need a little recovery time will usually come in for treatment after work or school and then just go home to rest for the evening.
Is a 50% Treatment Success Too Good to Be True?
Many people feel like a 50% full recovery rate is too good to be true. How could magnetic stimulation device have such long-lasting benefits for the treatment of depression that hasn’t responded to other treatments? But as a practicing psychiatrist for more than 30 years, this is the success rate that we see with this treatment.
More and more psychiatrists are adding this device treatment to their repertoire once they meet patient after patient that has improved with this method. It may not be easy to convince a patient to try this new treatment, especially if it involves going to see a new physician so that it can take a little convincing.
Many of my patients have been with me for years. I obtained the TMS machine partly to treat a long-term patient of mine who had been suffering without relief for years. He was suffering so deeply from his depression that he was about to lose his job. Thankfully, he did very well on the TMS treatment and was able to experience full relief for the first time in years. Like many who seek this treatment, he did not have a relapse for a full three years. Just this one man’s recovery made the machinery a very worthy addition to our practice.
Over time, we hope to convince more patients to consider this treatment by reducing cost, convincing insurance companies to provide more treatment options (Medicare now pays for 36 treatments) and showing more of the positive results from those who have tried the treatment already. Would you like to find out more about TMS? Learn more about this cutting-edge, revolutionary treatment and how it may benefit you and your loved ones in this video or call us today.