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  1. #1

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    Hi Everyone,

    My name is Bo, I'm a 28 year old male, living in Toronto, Ontario. I was diagnosed with Major Depression when I was 18, with a probability of having had depression since I was 14.

    I used to be on Zoloft, but I didn't really use it reliably: I would take it if and when I remembered, and only when I could afford it. So, I made the mistake of going off it cold-turkey several times.

    More recently I'm on a combination of Celexa and Wellbutrin, with moderate success. I guess you could say I'm doing "better", but I'm not exactly "fine".

    I've personally observed that I seem much more likely to have dysthimia, with bouts of Major Depressive episodes interspersed throughout. Of course, this doesn't really matter as both conditions are treated using the same techniques.

    Anyways, I've digressed from my original question, so let me get back to that. Recently, my employer has agreed to provide the funding for me to take part in rTMS (repetitive, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation) treatments. If you've never heard of it, you can learn more at www.mindcarecentres.com. It was recommended to me by my company's doctor, who seems very excited by the treatment.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a psychiatrist at the moment (first session with him is in November), and my family physician has never even heard of rTMS, so I have very little to go on. I was searching around last night, and I found this link that basically says that rTMS isn't recognized as a treatment for depression.

    Has anyone tried it yet? Observations, results? I go for my initial appointment on Wednesday (October 27, 2004), with treatment starting on the 28th.

    I would absolutely love to get off of my medications someday if it's at all possible, so I'm hoping that this treatment performs a miracle.

    No matter what, I'll make sure I keep everyone posted with my experieinces, observations, and progrss as time goes by, but I was hoping to hear from others who have experienced rTMS or considered it.
    The road to recovery begins with the assumption that you have a right to be you. It ends when you realize that you want to be.

  2. #2

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    I have read a little bit about it, Bo. Basically, it is still very much in the experimental stage at this point, so there is no good data to support it as a recommended treatment -- that doesn't mean it doesn't work, only that it remains to be seen whether or under what conditions it can be effective.

    The other question I have from your post is are you currently seeing a therapist (i.e., for psychotherapy and/or cognitive behavior therapy)? Medication alone can be helpful but most of the available research is quite clear: If you really want to address the issue that are triggering the depression, you also need to get help in the form of psychotherapy. That's especially true if you hope one day not to need any medication...

  3. #3

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    No, I don't have access to any psychotherapy at the moment Dr. Baxter. As I mentioned, I do have an appointment with a psychiatrist in mid-November, but that's about it. And, to be honest, I'm not optimistic about this upcoming appointment, either.

    This will be my fourth psychiatrist. The first two that I went to wound up saying that I was "at the point where they would refer me back to my family physician". I rejected the third one I went to, I just pretty much hated him. This fourth one is going to wind up asking about my meds, the impact that depression is having on my life, and that'll be it. He may adjust my dosage, but I truly doubt there will be any offer for cognitive behaviour therapy forthcoming. He just won't have the time available, considering that even with a referral from my GP, it took them over a month just to call me to book an appointment for a month after that!

    My understanding is that unlike a psychiatrist, a general therapist would not be covered by OHIP, even with a referral. Any idea if that's correct? Like many people with long-time depression, I haven't exactly risen to the top of my profession, so money is always an issue.

    I was looking through other threads, and the one about cognitive distortions was interesting. I realize that if I've had depression since I was 14, that many of my beliefs and attitudes will be unneccesarily negative. This would be learned behaviour; it would continue even if the chemical imbalances in my brain were fixed today. I know it's a word you try to avoid in psychiatry, but much of my core belief system is probably "wrong". Or, at least, distorted through experience.

    I've mentioned cognitive behaviour therapy to my GP, and to at least one of the psychiatrists that I've had. Other than one session in a really bizarre therapy group, my Dr's seem to have this attitiude of fixing the chemicals in my brain through pharmacology, and that my thinking and beliefs are none of their concern. I personally believe that if a person has enough negativity, no amount of anti-depressants will be able to overcome it for long. As I said in my first post, I suspect that I have dysthymia, which would require a lot more talk therapy in my opinion.

    It's funny: for most of my life since I've gotten depression, the "specialists", the psychiatrists, have pretty much treated me like I should get out of their offices and let them help somebody that has real problems. Which is, in my opinion, why so many people (especially men) don't seek help for depression. If the professional attitiude towards the illness is not enlightened, how can we be expected to beg for help?
    The road to recovery begins with the assumption that you have a right to be you. It ends when you realize that you want to be.

  4. #4

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    I notice you list your location as Scarborough, Bo... one thing you might look into is to see if either York University or the University of Toronto has a "Psychological Services" centre... universities with graduate clinical psychology programs often do and if so you might have access to upper year students who conduct therapy with clients under the supervision of clinical professors. While of course they may not have years of experience, the supervisors do, and the cost to the public is generally nominal.

    The other possibility might be services through the Clarke Institute (now combined with Addiction Research Foundation and I forget the new name) -- there may be a long waiting list there, though, as there would be with hospital outpatient departments who sometimes offer such services.

    Another way of finding out this information might be to contact psychologists in the area (look under Psychologists and Psychological Associates in the Yellow Pages) and ask them if they can recommend a free or low-cost service -- I do respond to such requests when I can for the Ottawa area.

  5. #5

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    One other thing that I assumed you've already thought about but maybe not: If your employer is willing to provide funding for an experimental treatment, would they offset the costs of a psychologist or psychotherapist? Many employee extended health plans do...

    If so, let me know... I do know an excellent therapist with offices in Mississuaga and Toronto...

  6. #6

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    Bo, check your Personal Messages here... (click on the link at the top of the page).

  7. #7

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    Ok, I've pulled out my benefits package, and it doesn't say one way or the other if psychotherapy is covered. I see there is a small allowance fro Psychologists ($1500 per year), but nothing on therapists. I'll have to call my benefits provider on Monday to find out.

    I hadn't thought about the local universities - thanks for the idea.
    The road to recovery begins with the assumption that you have a right to be you. It ends when you realize that you want to be.

  8. #8

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    If you're covered for Psychologists, that will work -- the person I mentioned in the private message is an M.A. level therapist but she works "under the supervision of a psychologist" for insurance claims so you would be covered. $1500 per year is actually a very generous isnurance package -- even better than the federal public service gets.

  9. #9

    First Impressions

    Hi Everybody,

    I had my initial interview at the rTMS clinic today. It looks promising. The Dr. seems confident and self-assured, and was able and willing to answer all of my questions... even the ones that pointed out some of the negative aspects of the treatment.

    Of course, I won't really know more until I go for my first actual treatment tomorrow, but I just wanted to share my initial impressions.

    If anybody is thinking about trying this type of treatment, and is on Wellbutrin, make sure you bring that up with them as soon as possible. Depending on your dosage, they may want to reduce it before/during treatment, which can prolong your wait time.

    I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when I can share more.
    The road to recovery begins with the assumption that you have a right to be you. It ends when you realize that you want to be.

  10. #10

    Has anybody here tried rTMS therapy for depression yet?

    Thanks, Bo. Looking forward to hearing how this goes for you.

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