Doctors using TMS treatment to help people with depression

Doctor says treatment wakes up dormant areas of brain

By Aaron Wische - Senior Executive Producer, Sara Donchey - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Unless you've been there, Gina said you just can't imagine what it feels like to be depressed. She tried to take her own life.

"You get to a place where you're not thinking rational, and you think that people would be better off without you,” said Gina, who asked us not to use her last name.

Gina describes it as unbearable physical pain that's not just in your head.

"I started drinking a lot. That's what brought me here, ended up having to go into treatment for it," she said.

Dr. Marcus DeCarvalho, a psychiatrist, said Gina was a shell of the person she is today.

"We're talking about a person who could not even get out of bed in the morning. Significant depression and feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, no appetite. She couldn't sleep at all. Also, massive anxiety, racing thoughts," DeCarvalho said.

DeCarvalho believed Gina would be a good candidate for transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS.

"We will move this magnet to this area of the brain and deliver small pulses that will bring up that chemical," DeCarvalho said.

Pictures show the brain of a depressed person and the brain of someone who is not depressed. DeCarvalho said the treatment wakes up dormant areas of the brain. When that happens, 45 percent of patients go into complete remission. Another 65-75 percent respond well, but could need follow-up treatment in the future.

"Now you have a treatment that you walk in, just like you walk into the ER, and we go right to the spot and we start treatment right away. No weight gain, no libido issues, none of that stuff. No nausea, no vomiting," he said.

Gina's friends and family started to see the difference after just 10 treatments, which took two weeks.

"Now, I smile. I have hope and now it leveled the playing field," Gina said. "So I have a chance now and I can do the therapy that I need to do and get back on track."

In total, Gina underwent 36 treatments, which were covered by her insurance.

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