Dr. Kira Stein is a board-certified psychiatrist and is the medical director of the West Coast TMS Institute in Sherman Oaks, California. She has extensive experience in the treatment of mood disorders and is certified in the clinical application of TMS therapy. You can read more about Dr. Stein and her practice at here.
Depression, the most common mental disorder in the United States, is a debilitating disease that affects a rapidly-growing number of people. In January 2011, the Los Angeles County department of mental health issued a report on depression. The report showed a significant increase in the percentage of adults in LA County who had been diagnosed with depression.
Clinical depression can lead to significant dysfunction, including lost jobs, divorce, poor parenting, loss of friends and isolation. Another reason to seek treatment is that depression is associated with poor physical health, including obesity, heart disease, dementia, chronic pain and substance abuse.
The good news is that depression can be treated. If lifestyle changes and psychotherapy don't work, then antidepressant medication can help.
For many who do not respond fully to medication or cannot tolerate drug side effects, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a new treatment approach that should be considered.
TMS is a revolutionary, drug-free, and effective depression treatment that uses non-invasive magnetic fields to improve the functioning of specific parts of the brain associated with mood. While TMS has been proven to be at least as effective as medication, it does not introduce ionic radiation or drugs into the body, so it is associated with far fewer side effects.
Recently, the audience of “The Dr. Oz Show” was introduced to TMS on national television, featuring a live demonstration. In an emotional interview, a patient described her experience with TMS as “life changing."
She continued to say that, "In the third week [of treatment] I felt that a dark cloud had lifted. I was at dinner, and my son looked at my husband and said, ‘Dad, she’s different. She’s a new person. Mom is back.'"
It’s a very touching story, and you can watch it here.
The Dr. Oz segment includes a fascinating animation that illustrates how TMS acts on the brain. Dr. Oz narrates the video and is clearly excited about TMS, and after the live demonstration he wonders, “Why is every psychiatrist in the country not thinking about this for their patients?”
In our TMS center in Sherman Oaks, we use the NeuroStar® TMS Therapy system. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved NeuroStar® TMS in 2008 for the treatment of major depressive disorders in adults who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from one prior antidepressant medication.
TMS is an outpatient procedure that takes less than an hour and is typically administered five days a week for four to six weeks. Patients remain awake during the procedure, and can listen to music or watch television. When the procedure is over, patients can drive and pursue normal daily activities.
About 80 percent of my patients have responded favorably to TMS treatment for depression. Megan is one of our success stories. She was depressed for two years and had lost two jobs, but after the first couple of weeks of TMS treatment, Megan noticed changes in her mood.
“I started singing in my car again...It keeps getting better. It keeps improving day after day.”
Megan is no longer clinically depressed, now has a job, and is taking college classes. It is so rewarding to see patients' lives turn around after suffering for so long. TMS is an entirely new direction in psychiatry, giving hope to thousands who suffer from treatment-resistant depression.