Depression treatment is changing minds

Published: Feb. 20, 2018 at 6:30 PM MST
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More than three million Americans suffer from clinical depression. In recent years a new therapy has been given FDA approval, and a Grand Junction clinic is leading the way in trying to make a drug-free treatment for depression more accessible for others.

Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Sammons of TMS Solutions has been studying Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) since 2006.

"This gets the cells back really operating normally and with that it has a dramatic effect on depression," said Dr. Sammons.

The treatment helps those who have tried several anti-depressants, but either they don't work, or are no longer effective. It sends small electrical charges to a portion of the brain believed to be effected by depression.

"We can't feel it but it's strong enough to penetrate thru the bone and brain tissue to fire those cells," Dr. Sammons said. "By stimulating cells on the surface, by domino effect they fire the next one, and the next one and it dives deep in."

Patients initially get treated five days per week, for 30 sessions. Dr. Sammons says that after a year, about half of patients are at the same level of improvement that they were at the end of treatment, compared to eight percent for those who are are on their fourth or more different anti-depressants.

Now they're looking to expand who can be treated with TMS.

"One of the nice things is that this treatment is available for our veterans who suffer from depression and PTSD, Dr. Sammons, a former veteran, said. "As the knowledge of this program are known I think more veterans from our local VA will get referred for treatment."

TMS Solutions is the only civilian group nationwide to get validation within Veterans Affairs for vets to get treatment there. They also are working to get it approved for teens.

"My clinic was one of 10 clinics that just did the research on the adolescent study that we hope to have published in May," Dr. Sammons said.

Dr. Sammons said Insurance will cover the treatment after a patient has tried four other anti-depressants in pill form. Their are some minor short-term side effects like Lightheadedness or pain at the location sight, but no long term effects have been found.