Almost every single person will encounter mental illness in their lifetime — whether it be from their own personal experience or someone they know. In the United States, one in five adults experience mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and some of the most prevalent mental health conditions relate to depression and anxiety.
Christopher Blackburn, founder and patient advocate for TMS Solutions, shared how TMS treatment has seen promising results in kicking depression to the curb.
What is TMS? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is aimed at fixing neuron activity in the brain. TMS is taught and utilized in all medical schools around the world, the Mayo Clinic, most major medical facilities in the United States and is covered by all insurance companies and Medicare. Blackburn and his partner Robert Sammons, M.D., Ph.D., have been working to bring TMS treatment to locations around the Mountain West.
“I would explain it as an advanced treatment for depression,” Blackburn says.
According to Blackburn, the response rate is 80 percent and the remission rate is 50 percent with decades of clinical depression studies done previously. According to the largest antidepressant study, after a third antidepressant trial, a patient has less than a seven percent chance of efficacy. TMS doesn’t have systemic side effects like prescriptions and patients drive themselves to and from treatment with no problems. Most patients are able to reduce or eliminate the use of prescription medication after treatment.
TMS Solutions has seven devices operating in just Colorado, and 10 more across other states like Idaho, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
“It’s life changing,” Blackburn explains. “What we’re seeing is if we can get patients help before they’re highly medicated and early on in their lives, it certainly makes a big difference.”
“This is living life, not getting through life on a crutch,” shares Tim McGreer, a patient who’s experienced TMS.
McGreer had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is bleeding in the space between the brain and the tissue that covers it.
“It was medications, being constantly nauseous; it was just taking one drug, and another drug,” he explains about the tiring routine of doctor visits. “It’s like a cycle.”
He began getting frustrated with physicians after many trial and errors with different prescription medications and failed attempts. McGreer then discovered TMS.
TMS may not be something you hear about at the doctor’s office. According to Blackburn, there’s so many pharmaceutical medications in the medical market because they all work on a trial and error basis. If one medication doesn’t work, it’s on to the next and becomes a cycle.
“Most patients who suffer from depression have been on several different medical prescriptions,” Blackburn explains. “Many of them are on two to four high-strength medications, mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medicines. TMS patients typically, once completed with TMS treatment, are able to get down to one low dose antidepressant or off treatment. However, during TMS treatment patients stay on their medications and then are evaluated after treatment.”
McGreer finally found this new treatment and found Robert Sammons, the chief medical director for TMS. Sammons began seeing him as a patient and was his physician throughout the process. The treatment length varies between patients but McGreer started noticing little things during the process.
“It’s like getting another limb attached,” shares McGreer, trying to find the right words to explain the unique treatment experience. “It’s almost like explaining to a blind person what color is.”
McGreer says he is incredibly grateful for TMS. He recommends that anyone who’s been on an anti-depressant or similar medication should definitely give this unique method a try.
If you or someone you know needs helps now, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.