New Hope For Depression

Therapy using magnetic stimulation brightens her life after meds could not.

Just as it had been for the previous five years, Florida real estate was in a seller’s market when the calendar turned to 2020. Then the coronavirus began to spread and would-be home sellers began taking their properties off the market.

Betsie Welch with a thumbs up and holding a sold sign

Betsie is sold on TMS therapy.

“Now we’re in a hyper-seller’s market,” says Betsie Welch, 61, a Tampa Bay area real estate agent.

Betsie is an engaging sort who has a personality bright enough to light up a dark room. Which is why you’d never know she has struggled with depression for nearly 40 years.

“My battle with depression began when I was 25,” Betsie reveals. “I was engaged to the wrong guy, and after our breakup I went through a real bad bout of depression that lasted about six months.

“I got through that with the help of a good therapist, then got married at the age of 30 and a few years later started a family. I was fine until I was 38, when all of a sudden, the depression hit me
again out of nowhere.

“I don’t know what brought it on. It might have been that I was sleep-deprived because I had three small children under the age of 5, and I was going to bed at 2 a.m. and getting up at 6. But whatever it was, it really threw me.

“All of a sudden, I felt very empty, or like I was falling down a hole I couldn’t get out of. It was the weirdest thing, because no matter how much you cry, you still feel lost. When you have depression, you don’t just feel sad, you feel as if you’re in despair.”

Betsie says it took her two years to escape her second bout with depression, and after that she was fine for about 20 years. Then, about two years ago, her antidepressant suddenly lost
its effectiveness.

That prompted a change in medications, which worked for a few months. What made the situation worse was her psychiatrist retiring during the time between starting the medication and it wearing off.

“At that point I thought, Oh, my gosh, what do I do now,” Betsie says. “But then I found the right medication. And it was helping but not as much as it really should have, so I started reading and asking about TMS therapy. The more I asked about it, the more I thought, I should try this.”

The TMS Era

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 for people with treatment-resistant depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the parts of the brain that are insufficiently active in people with depression.

The magnetic pulses are similar to those emitted during an MRI, the difference being they are delivered through a cup-shaped device that is placed on the prefrontal cortex while the patient rests comfortably in a chair similar to a dentist’s chair.

TMS treatments last for 18 minutes, 45 seconds, with patients usually receiving a total of 36 treatments, Monday through Friday, over an eight-week period.

Far different than electroconvulsive therapy, which uses an electric stimulus, TMS treatments are administered in the doctor’s office, and considered safe and easy on the body. The most common side effect is some mild to moderate scalp discomfort from the application.

“What TMS does is stimulate blood flow to the frontal lobes of the brain, which is where the emotional regulatory centers are located,” says Charles DeVine, MD, of TMS of Central Florida. “By increasing that blood flow, the brain is stimulated to more effectively regulate its own blood sugar, which is what we’re trying to target with medications.

“At its core, TMS is a noninvasive, nonmedicinal therapy that produces a genuine anatomical change, which in terms of regulating blood sugar is different than insulin. While insulin helps somebody regulate blood sugar, you need to keep taking insulin to keep it regulated. That’s not the case with TMS.

“When TMS is successful, there is a true anatomical and physiological change within the brain. The anatomical change is the increased blood flow. The physiological change is the better regulation of blood sugar and brain chemistry that produces a result where people can either come off their medication altogether or function better with it.”

Happy Days

The amount of time it takes for patients to begin realizing results varies. Many notice a change after a few treatments. Others don’t notice a difference in their mood
for several weeks.

In Betsie’s case, it took a few months and a second course to realize the benefits.

“I went through the whole regimen, and it helped me a little but not as much as I hoped it would,” Betsie reports on the first course. “About three months ago, I decided I wanted to try TMS therapy again, and this time it really helped. Now I’m feeling like myself again.”

Dr. DeVine has noticed the change. He says Betsie “is doing fantastic” and further notes that “there is a spring in her step and a light in her eyes that wasn’t there” when they met.

Betsie says prayer and persistence played a big part in her recovery.

“I had so many people praying for me that God was probably perturbed by it all, but TMS really worked,” Betsie says. “What I want people to know is that if TMS doesn’t work for you the first time, don’t give up on it. Try it a second time.

“That second try was when it really kicked in for me and when all my prayers and the prayers of so many people who were praying for me were finally answered. So I highly recommend TMS therapy. And I recommend Dr. DeVine as well.

“He’s very professional and caring, but he’s also very personable and funny. In fact, he’s the funniest psychiatrist I’ve ever been to. He not only helps to heal your brain and get your depression under control, but he has a sense of humor, too.

“With Dr. DeVine, even if you feel like crying, he can get you laughing, because he’s got a great personality.”

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    • TMS of Central Florida

      TMS Therapy is a proven, effective treatment for debilitating depression. TMS Therapy system uses short pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate the area of the brain that is thought to function abnormally in patients with depression. ... Read More

    • Charles Devine, MD

      Charles Devine, MD, specializes in psychiatry and neurology and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He earned his medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine in 1995 and later performed his residency at the... Read More

    • Troy Noonan, MD

      Troy Noonan, MD, specializes in general psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry. He earned his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University in Chicago, Illinois in 1996 and has been in practice for mo... Read More