State Of The Artist

Drawing on magnetic brain stimulation to erase depression symptoms.

If all goes as Andy Klumb hopes, he will soon be designing and drawing characters for video games like the one that this burgeoning artist can easily lose himself in for hours at a time.

Andy Klumb

“I’m a senior in college at the University of Central Florida, where I’m pursuing a degree in fine arts in digital media,” Andy reports. “I’m set to graduate next year, and I definitely want to get into character concept art for video games.

“That’s the goal because I’d like to combine two of my greatest passions – art and video games. I’ve always been into art, and I’m all about video games. If I have nothing else on my plate, I can easily pull six hours playing a game like ‘The Last of Us.’ ”

Though it’s not enough to live on just yet, Andy is already making money off his artwork. The 22-year-old graduate of Newsome High School in Lithia works on commission, providing customers with what amounts to made-to-order artwork.

“I do a little bit of everything,” Andy explains. “It’s pretty much whatever the customer wants, so it changes from time to time, but I focus mostly on doing digital drawings and traditional drawings, things like that.”

Andy’s passion for art and video games has grown amid a battle he’s waged against depression since his last years of elementary school. It’s a battle that used to leave Andy exhausted mentally and physically.

“I was in eighth grade when I was first diagnosed with depression, and ever since then it’s been a constant struggle, experimenting with different medications, trying to find the right fit that works best for me,” Andy reveals.

“I finally found a medication that helped me with my mood, but I was still very fatigued and lacked energy and motivation. So, I started looking for other methods besides medication to help me, and my psychiatrist came up with a good solution.”

Andy’s psychiatrist is Troy Noonan, MD, of TMS of Central Florida.

Dr. Noonan has been seeing Andy since 2014. At that time, Andy was visiting regularly with a psychologist, but he was concerned that his talk therapy sessions weren’t doing much good.

“He came in with a lot of symptoms,” Dr. Noonan reports. “Depression was the biggest concern, but he also had social phobia, fatigue, poor focus, poor concentration, a lack of motivation and some ritualistic behaviors that were kind of on the OCD spectrum.

“Because he didn’t feel like therapy was helping him any longer, he wanted to know if medication might be an option for him. So, we started him out with Prozac. And at the very beginning he did receive some benefit from it. But then we ran into side effects.”

The dozens of side effects associated with antidepressants such as Prozac can include nausea, headaches, constipation and drowsiness. Andy was experiencing several of those, so Dr. Noonan took him off Prozac and put him on Zoloft.

Andy responded to Zoloft in much the same way he responded to Prozac. He received some benefit, but even after increasing and augmenting the dosage, it was not what Andy and Dr. Noonan were seeking.

“He was still struggling with focus and attention, so we added an ADD (attention deficit disorder) medication and switched the augmenter,” Dr. Noonan relates. “Even after all that, we still didn’t get the benefit we wanted. That’s when we decided to try TMS therapy.”

The TMS Era

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 for people with treatment-resistant depression, TMS, or 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 is administered in the doctor’s office, and considered safe and easy on the body. The most common side effect is mild to moderate scalp discomfort at the application site.

“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.

“It’s a no-hassle treatment, there’s no pain associated with it and it works.”- Andy

“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.”

Twice As Nice

The amount of time it takes for patients to begin feeling the effects of TMS varies. Many notice a change after a few treatments. Others don’t notice a difference in their mood for several weeks. In Andy’s case, it took a few months and a second course.

“Andy received a fair amount of benefit from his first round of TMS treatments,” Dr. Noonan explains. “The feeling was that he was definitely headed in the right direction, but he wasn’t quite where we wanted him to be. So we did a second round of TMS, and that’s when everything really began to improve. That’s consistent with what I’ve seen in many patients. Those that have done a second round are the ones who actually benefit the most.”

Andy concurs that his second round of TMS provided the benefit he was seeking. Afterward, he was more energized, more engaged and in a far better mood than before.

Andy is still taking medications to help with his mood, but he’s convinced that the medications are working better as a result of the TMS therapy. He adds that he feels fortunate to have found Dr. Noonan and TMS of Central Florida.

“I really like Dr. Noonan,” Andy concludes. “I’ve been seeing him since I was in high school and he’s easy to talk to and really understands things. He’s a guy who truly wants to get to the bottom of things, and I appreciate that.

“That’s how I ended up trying TMS, and I thought the treatment was really neat. The people who administer it at his office are very professional, and the treatment was very comfortable. It’s a no-hassle treatment, there’s no pain associated with it and it works. I definitely recommend it to anybody.”

FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo courtesy of Andy Klumb. mkb
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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