Melanie is a fit, active 68 year old woman who had experienced moderate depression her entire life. She had “learned to live with it” by staying busy and engaged with people and with life. She was retired and was actively involved in volunteer work in her community. This work provided meaning and social involvement which she loved. She was fulfilled by serving others.
In early 2020 her mom, who was 97, went into the hospital which was stressful for Melanie. Soon after that, Covid hit. Her volunteer work was temporarily suspended as the agencies and events shut down. She lost her day-to-day structure, her social support system, and the immense sense of fulfillment she derived by helping others. Her mood plummeted. Her moderate depression, which she had always kept at bay, escalated to severe depression and she found herself crying when she was talking to friends on the phone. She would often stay in bed until noon. She felt chronically tired but had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep during the night. She lost her appetite. She felt anxious and she worried excessively. Her mind was constantly bombarded with negative thoughts that she couldn’t let go of. This is typical of depression but she didn’t know it. She kept trying to think her way out of the pain but the thoughts were unremitting. She knew this “wasn’t her.” She tried to force herself to get busy but she was exhausted by the constant thinking, worry and negativity.
Melanie reached out to a therapist she had seen in the past and they decided together she should contact a psychiatrist and consider medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective treatment for depression but some patients struggle to correct irrational thoughts when they are emotionally exhausted. Melanie had been on medication off and on over the past several years with little effect. She didn’t like the side effects of nausea and weight gain and did not feel significantly better.
She reached out to our office and saw Dr. Hubbard. He assessed her level of depression and suggested she consider TMS both for depression and anxiety. She met with Dr. Wycoff and completed a 90 minute TMS consult. Because she had tried an antidepressant in the past and had been in therapy in the past, she qualified for coverage of TMS under Medicare. She had no contra-indications and was a good candidate for the treatment.
She came in every day and watched TV during her treatment with Lisandra, one of our treaters. She and Lis watched a movie and when the treatment was completed she was surprised and sorry the treatment was over before the movie was! She looked forward to coming in for her treatments (19 minutes on the left side for depression and 19 minutes on the right side for anxiety). She felt that her connection with Lisandra enhanced her commitment to coming in each day because she felt engaged with someone she trusted and enjoyed.
For the first two weeks her depression remained severe, but gradually she started to feel “lighter”. She was surprised one day when she spontaneously went for a walk. Previously she would go outside to garden and would find herself sitting on the grass sobbing. She started giving herself a “pat on the back” for small things she accomplished, like reading or calling a friend. She found that she started feeling stronger and stronger. She noticed one day that her mind didn’t immediately go to the negative, and that the constant barrage of thoughts were calming down.
After 6 weeks she feels stronger than she did before Covid hit. She said that if she feels negativity coming on she immediately deflects it because she realizes she “doesn’t need to go there.” Her mind cooperates where in the past she felt helpless to stop them. Her mind will now let go of the negative thoughts before they take hold and drag her into a downward spiral. She bounces back. She feels calm and energetic at the same time. She is engaged in life again and feels “great.” Her mood and strength have continued to improve even weeks after the treatment stopped.
She is a woman of faith and feels that the TMS, Lisandra and God worked together to give her back her life.