Non-drug depression treatment offers relief

Non-drug depression treatment offers relief

Dated: 09/15/2022

Reviewed by Kaci Jones

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Around 17.3 million adults in America suffer from depression. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an FDA-approved treatment that does not use drugs or shock; it is gaining popularity in the Queen City.

Daniel Cook, a navy veteran from Concord, says the treatment saved his life.

“My parents, my pastor, my friends, they all told me a year ago there was death in my eyes, and as of April this year, everyone sees life,” Cook said.

The treatment is 19 minutes a session, five days a week for seven weeks.

He says he started noticing a difference in five weeks. He had already tried at least ten medications since 2006 that didn’t work to treat his symptoms.

Relief finally came in the form of magnets. Healthcare professionals use a machine to put a magnetic coil on a person’s scalp or forehead. The coil gives a magnetic pulse that passes through the skull to stimulate nerves in a specific part of the brain.

“It’s kinda like if you were tapping your head with your finger,” Cook said. “No pain, no discomfort, and definitely no side effects.”

The FDA recommends TMS for people who have tried at least one antidepressant.

At least 25 local TMS providers like Terry Wise at TMS of the Carolinas.

“It’s almost physical therapy for the brain,” Wise said. “That’s why there are 36 sessions retraining your brain to think on its own again and produce the chemicals.”

Wise says he sees dozens of patients every week desperately searching for relief.

“Anywhere from someone as young as 18, most patients are between 20 to 22 to in their 70s and anywhere in between,” Wise said. “Depression typically starts at younger age.”

Pennsylvania-based company Neuronetics developed the technology and manufactured the machines. The company is expanding with a new training facility in Charlotte. People from across the country travel to the Queen City to learn how to use it and talk to patients about it.

“Within the hospital systems in Charlotte, there are 450,000 patients who have failed four drugs that would qualify,” Keith Sullivan from Neuronetics said.

He says two-thirds of patients go into remission after treatment, and insurance covers the bulk of the cost for patients.

“We only scratched the surface in the 12 years we’ve had this technology on the market,” Sullivan said. “We’ve treated 135,000 patients. That is a drop in the bucket.”

Patients like Cook want people to know there’s hope for suffering in silence.

“It’s okay to not be okay and that if you can recognize it or get someone to recognize it and take the steps outside of your comfort level, you can get help,” Cook said.

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