BRANDON, FL —There are some people who respond well to antidepressants for depression treatment, and there are others who do not respond well to medication and feel hopeless for a depression cure. If you fall in the latter, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a treatment that doesn’t involve medication, and it’s offered at the newly opened Brandon NeuroSpa TMS Therapy Center.
“It’s a treatment for depression, and also for a lot of other mental health problems, too,” said W. Nate Upshaw, the center’s medical director and a board-certified psychiatrist. “It helps with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety and insomnia. It uses technology like an MRI machine with magnetic pulses.”
The pulses target specific areas of the brain and help reset how the brain is wired to itself, Upshaw said.
“It works without medications, and it works without side effects,” said Upshaw.
The Mayo Clinic’s website said during a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead. The electromagnet painlessly delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression. It’s thought to activate regions of the brain that have decreased activity in depression.
TMS therapy has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2008.
Upshaw said he wants to make Tampa Bay residents more aware of this treatment because so many people have never heard of this therapy, and a lot of his clients through the years who did not respond well to medication responded very well to TMS therapy.
As it takes a person on antidepressants anywhere from two weeks to over a month to experience results, Upshaw groups the results he’s seen over the years into thirds.
He’s been in TMS therapy practice since 2010.
“A third of people experience something like a home run, where in the first week or two, they’re feeling better, they’re less anxious, worrying less and they’re sleeping better,” explained Upshaw. “Another third of people kind of end up in the same place as those people with the home run but it takes a few more weeks to kick in.”
The last third of people gets some benefit from the treatment, but they don’t feel like it was a home run, said Upshaw. They still have symptoms, but they do feel better from when they came in.
The NeuroSpa TMS clinics are set up to resemble a spa with the relaxed lighting, music and other exterior influences to create as close to a perfect atmosphere as possible.
When Upshaw first founded the clinics in other areas he operates a few years ago, he wasn’t 100 percent certain that people with severe depression would stick to their appointments because he understands that with depression, a lot of times it’s hard to get out of bed and everyday living is a challenge. But the opposite happened, and he said they kept coming back to TMS therapy sessions.
“This kind of works like physical therapy to rehab your shoulder,” said Upshaw. “If you do these exercises over and over again, it builds the strength back and then it’s ok. There’s these networks that we can see on these MRIs that are out of sync and if you do this treatment for a few weeks, the networks are synced back up again, and they tend to stay synced up, even after you stop TMS.”
According to Upshaw, if you do well with TMS, you have a 70 percent chance of not needing treatment anytime soon. Of the 30 percent of people whose symptoms do come back, usually after a few months, experience accumulative effect during the second session of treatments and respond better.
Upshaw encourages anyone who has not had positive experiences from anti-depressants and other medications with treating depression to try TMS therapy because he believes they will have a better chance of healing with TMS.
NeuroSpa TMS’s Brandon location, 1170 Nikki View Drive, opened at the beginning of September, and sessions can be covered by most insurance, including Medicare. Other NeuroSpa TMS locations include Lakeland, Pinellas Park, Wesley Chapel, Citrus Park and Tampa.
Its hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information about TMS therapy procedures and the NeuroSpa TMS Brandon location, visit NeuroSpa TMS Brandon.