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TMS: Providing Hope for People With Depression

Depression is a subject that is starting to gain more attention and funding in our country, but many still don't realize how prevalent the issue is.

Nearly 350 million people worldwide are affected by some form of depression, according to the World Health Organization.

About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by the age of 18 and 16 million adults in the United States will have at least one major depressive episode during the course of a year. That is approximately 6.9 percent of all adults in the country.

Now, there is a treatment that may be able to help a lot of those people is becoming more mainstream and being accepted by more health care companies.

Tyler Kirkpatrick has been dealing with depression for most of his life. He says he thinks it set in during his teen years.

“I think it set in sometime around 13 or 14, I went from being a happy kid to being depressed,” he said.

And for Kirkpatrick, typical medications were not effective.

“I started with all these meds," he said. "Every single one, the side effects were too much, or they made me more depressed or they just didn't work”

That’s when Plano psychiatrist Dr. Dhiren Patel stepped in with transcranial magnetic stimulation. TMS uses pulses from a magnet to affect your brain in a way that medications typically don't respond to.

“This is a big change in our thought process in treating depression," he said. "The patients we treat with TMS, they have tried 3 or 4 meds and because of side effects or other problems they’re not really taking it and it doesn't work well for their mood.”

Kirkpatrick started with TMS about a month ago and the difference, he says, is huge.

"I still struggle with daily challenges, I still have some mood swings, but when I look back, I woke up with depression and I went to bed with depression, and not just depression but despair.” he said. “Every time I had a hopeful thought, I'd have a thought that no, you can't do that. And now it's switched."

“I'm not dealing with the feelings of hopelessness anymore. They're just gone," he said. "It is amazing. It's changed my life.”

Many insurance companies are now covering this relatively new form of treatment. And if you were wondering, Kirkpatrick insists it's not painful. A bit strange the first few times you do it, but not uncomfortable at all.

And Kirkpatrick's not an exception, as 80 percent of patients see results from TMS. Patel says it's complete remission for some and 50 percent improvement for others, which is huge for someone who has not seen any change in year.

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