Although clinical depression is relatively common in Southern Utah, finding the right treatment can be challenging. For people who haven’t had success with antidepressants, transcranial magnetic stimulation is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and boasts a high success rate.
Integrated TMS owner and director Forrest Wolverton believes TMS can bridge the gap from just feeling “okay” or “less depressed” to living freely and being excited to wake up in the morning. The procedure effectively alleviates depressive symptoms and regulates mood by elevating activity in the segment of the brain that controls vital emotional functions.
“It goes right to the problem,” he said. During TMS therapy, a magnet similar to those used in MRIs is placed directly over the left prefrontal cortex of the brain. Wolverton noted research has found electrical activity in this area – which plays a key role in controlling personality, motivation and decision-making ability – is significantly lower in patients with clinical depression.
“By stimulating this area of the brain, it’s going to make a difference in how people feel,” he added.
Each session of TMS delivers about 3,000 magnetic pulses to help increase blood flow and stimulate electrical activity with the brain tissue. Sessions last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, and the recommended course of treatment is five sessions per week for four to six weeks.
Wolverton said that over time, TMS trains the left prefrontal cortex to become more active and keep functioning at a higher level. As a result, some patients experience such remarkable improvement that they choose to discontinue their antidepressants under the supervision of their mental health provider. Others continue taking their medications while enjoying much better results.
Because TMS simply uses a magnetic field to boost the function of natural processes, patients don’t experience any systemic side effects. In fact, patients are seated comfortably and remain fully awake during treatment. They’re welcome to read a book, watch TV or talk with the provider – whatever makes the experience most enjoyable – and they may resume everyday activities immediately afterward. Wolverton said the magnet used in TMS is gentle yet powerful, so most patients do experience some discomfort during their first few sessions.
Wolverton said TMS is safe and FDA-approved. It’s covered by Medicare and most insurance providers for patients whose depression hasn’t responded to drugs and talk therapy. Integrated TMS also offers a competitive pricing plan for patients who choose to pay out of pocket.
As a board-certified hypnotherapist and mindset development coach, Wolverton has spent the past eight years helping clients overcome emotional and mental roadblocks. During that time, he found there was still a missing link for some people, and he started investigating TMS as a solution.
Integrated TMS is a division of Integrated Psych, a comprehensive behavioral health clinic with locations in St. George, Cedar City and Orem. If needed, patients may combine TMS with other services offered at Integrated Psych including neurofeedback, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.
“We’ve got an awesome space,” Wolverton said. “We’re connected with people who are really doing things that work.”
He said many people with depression are doing everything right – going to therapy, taking antidepressants – but never see any improvement. When they may feel as though they’re out of options, Integrated TMS provides renewed hope. He strives to educate people about TMS and shine a light through the dark clouds of depression.
“There’s nothing more tragic than seeking help and still not getting what you need. That’s when a lot of people lose hope,” he said, “but the right person in the right place at the right time can change everything.”