It's estimated that one out of every ten people suffers from depression, and not everyone responds to medications or therapy. That's why psychiatrists at Avera Behavioral Health are using the latest in technology to treat depression without using the traditional medications And methods.
For the past few months, Abby Erickson has spent the better part of her lunch breaks sitting in this chair. Once a week, Abby comes to Avera Behavioral Health to receive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS therapy, to help treat her depression. She tried medication at first, but felt the pills didn't treat the real problem.
"I just said you know I've got to find a solution and I knew medication, although medication is wonderful in so many cases, I didn't just want to band-aid, I wanted something that could really help affect and alter my life." Said Erickson.
Abby first heard about TMS Therapy from a segment on the Dr. Oz show. From that moment she knew it was something she had to try.
TMS Therapy uses small electro-magnetic pulses to wake up areas in the brain that have slowed and are responsible for triggering the depression.
"That electro-magnetic field creates a stimulus for an area of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, and in stimulating those neurons it treats depression." Said Dr. Matthew Stanley, a psychiatrist at Avera Behavioral Health.
A quick look at a PED scan and you can see the difference between a normal and depressed brain. There is noticeable inactivity in a person suffering from depression. That's where TMS Therapy can help. What these pulses do is change the brain's behavior by training those identified areas to stay awake. While the repetitive pulses can be jarring, they get the job done.
"When I first came in here it will make you jump a couple times just as you're not used to it but then your body gets so used to it and then you're good to go!" Said Erickson.
The sessions take 37 and a half minutes to get through, so it is a big commitment. But compared to other treatment options there are little to no side effects.
Right now there is no true cure for depression, but TMS Therapy is an improved way to help manage it.
"So it's understanding your illness finding treatments that work and recognizing that it may take a lifetime of vigilance to control that illness but we don't have a tool that is much more acceptable to many people." Said Dr. Stanley.
Dr. Stanley says everyone has a preference and may react to each treatment option differently. But this is just another tool for doctors to use. For Abby it's a tool that has proven it works.
Depression can affect anyone and it can be hard to admit you need help. That's where Abby hopes her story resounds with others to finally get the help they need to end their suffering.
"I don't look like someone that has depression but I am the face of so many people and I wanted to come forward and say look there is hope and all you have to do is reach out and this is a perfect solution." Said Erickson.
Avera Behavioral Health was the first in the area to offer TMS Therapy and is holding a free seminar for people interested in learning more.
The To-Be-Well event will be held at the Avera Living Well Center on Wednesday March 20th from 5:30 to 6:30pm. For more information or to register just call 877-AT-AVERA.