On the Fast Track

“Express TMS” treatments ease anxiety, depression.

After working for more than a decade in the technical support field for a variety of different companies, Brian Covins ventured out on his own a few years ago and became a one-man Geek Squad®, creating the company he now calls Lighthouse Computer Services.
“I mainly go around to homes and small businesses and do computer maintenance and troubleshoot any problems people might have,” Brian says. “I teach them about any changes that have been made in their systems, clean up viruses, that sort of thing.”

Patient photo by Jordan Pysz.

Brian says he can feel the effects of TBS treatments
even as he receives them.

Brian, 47, uses his tech support company to supplement his income, a portion of which comes from the disability payments he’s been receiving since he was deemed permanently disabled because of anxiety and depression several years back.
“The depression made me feel like I was fatigued all the time, and the anxiety made me make mistakes on paperwork and that sort of thing,” Brian explains. “Unfortunately, that’s been a long-running theme.”
Brian’s personal bout with depression and anxiety dates back to his late teens, when his inability to concentrate on his studies forced him to abandon his early attempt to earn some college credits. It also cost him a part-time job.
Brian’s struggles eventually led to a diagnosis of major depressive disorder for which he was initially treated with antidepressants. When those proved ineffective, Brian took advantage of an opportunity to undergo transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, or TMS.
Delivered through a paddle-shaped device placed on the left prefrontal cortex, TMS therapy uses short magnetic pulses to stimulate the part of the brain associated with mood regulation and cognitive function, an area underactive in people suffering with depression.
Brian says he had a “very good response” to his initial TMS treatments. The response was so good, in fact, that when the psychiatrist who administered his first TMS treatments retired, Brian sought out a new psychiatrist who offered the same treatment.
That psychiatrist he chose is Boris Kawliche, MD, of Brandon TMS & Psychiatry, where Dr. Kawliche offers not only the noninvasive TMS treatments but also an “express” version of TMS treatments called theta-burst stimulation, or TBS.

Intermittent or Continuous

The biggest difference between standard TMS treatments, which were first approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008, and the similarly noninvasive TBS treatments is the amount of time required for each treatment session to be completed.
A single TMS treatment session lasts approximately 19 minutes, and a typical TMS treatment protocol calls for patients to receive five such treatments each week for six to eight weeks for a total of 36 treatments.
TBS treatments, which were approved for use by the FDA just last summer, can be delivered in an intermittent form that takes about three minutes per session or a continuous form that can be completed in about a minute.
When Dr. Kawliche first began treating Brian in 2017, he treated him for depression using standard TMS. Since then, he has treated him for both depression and anxiety, the latter through TBS treatments, which he recently changed from intermittent to continuous.
“When they do the TMS treatments for my depression, they place the paddle on the left side of my head,” Brian explains. “When they do the TBS treatments for my anxiety, the device is placed on the right side of my head.
“Both have worked really well for me. The treatments for my depression have really helped improve my moods, to the point where I have actually been getting out more and have become more socially active.
“As for the anxiety, my biggest problem there has always been sleeping. Because I would lie awake all night worrying about anything and everything, I’d only get about four to six hours of sleep a night.
“That may not seem that bad, but when you do that for days on end, you eventually reach a point where you’re so tired, you just have to crash for about twelve hours. That’s what was happening to me.
“But ever since we started doing the continuous TBS treatments, I’ve been sleeping a lot better. I’ve been sleeping a good eight hours or nine hours, which is what I need, and feeling a lot more refreshed. I also feel a lot more alert and aware of things.”

Patient photo by Jordan Pysz.

Brian Covins

Safe, Easy and Effective

Brian had what Dr. Kawliche refers to as a “typical response” to the two therapies, which have proven to be extremely effective. Studies show that 40 percent of patients receiving TMS or TBS treatments become completely asymptomatic, while 60 percent feel better but do not reach a level where they consider themselves to be completely asymptomatic.
In addition to their effectiveness, TMS and TBS treatments are also safe and easy on the body. The most common side effect is some mild to moderate scalp discomfort stemming from the treatment applications.
“The TBS treatments have really made a difference for me,” Brian exudes. “With the theta-burst treatments, I can feel them working even while I’m getting them. I can feel my mood changing and getting better.
“It’s a therapy I absolutely recommend for anyone who’s fighting depression or anxiety like me, and I definitely recommend Dr. Kawliche. I love that guy because he’s so open-minded and willing to try new things.
“He’s traveled all over the world to do research on TMS and TBS, and because of that, he’s on the leading edge of this.”

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