The owners of a new clinic that will open in downtown Longview in the coming weeks hope to provide another option for people with severe depression who have not responded to other treatments.
TMS NW provides deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which electrically stimulates the part of the brain responsible for regulating mood through a coil placed above the head. Over time, treatment lessens symptoms of depression in most patients.
In 2017 Brendan Roe, Julia Swofford and Piper Buersmeyer, nurse practitioners specializing in psychiatric medicine, first opened TMS NW in Vancouver. The three met while working together at another psychology practice and decided to open their clinic after finding out and researching MSD.
“We were looking for a way to take care of clients who have severe depression, who weren’t responding to medications… and weren’t getting better,” Roe said.
By the time someone has tried three antidepressants, the chance of getting back to normal functioning with the fourth is 7%, while with TMS it’s 50-60%, Roe said. Nationally, about 75% of patients respond to TMS, which means their symptoms improve by more than 50%, he said.
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About two years after TMS NW started up in Vancouver, Roe, Swofford and Buersmeyer opened a second site in Tigard, Oregon, south of Portland. The group said they always wanted to open an office in Longview. The new Commerce Avenue location is slated to open in late December or early January.
TMS has been studied since the 1980s and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 to treat adults for treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and smoking cessation. TMS is not shock therapy and is non-invasive.
Patients are not sedated and can drive immediately after treatment. The most common side effects are temporary and include mild pain at the treatment site, headache, jaw pain, and muscle twitching.
The treatment lasts about 20 minutes, five days a week for at least six weeks. Buersmeyer said that because many clients have been ill for a long time, it often takes more than six weeks to fully respond.
“At first it feels like a lot of time, a big commitment and it is,” said Roe. “But when you have depression and nothing has worked for years, being free from depression or even having 50% reduced symptoms, having that kind of improvement after years in seven weeks is phenomenal. “
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The clinic also offers Medication Optimization, where providers assess how current medications are working, identify areas for improvement, and develop a plan to meet treatment goals. Buersmeyer said practitioners look at drugs with fresh eyes and can sometimes help the client without MSD treatment.
The conception that TMS is for the worst of the worst isn’t true, and it may be more helpful for people to seek treatment earlier, Buersmeyer said.
“The suffering and disability that comes with depression is very costly,” she said. “We want to standardize even highly functional customers who want to use TMS. “
Treatment with TMS is not a panacea, and patients may need to continue medication and psychotherapy, depending on their needs, Buersmeyer said.
A recent review of the clinic’s numbers found that about 3% of patients have returned for treatment, Roe said. Returning patients consistently say the treatment works for a period of time before they notice a rollback, he said.
“I’ve never had a client who said he was back to the original severity level,” Roe said. “If you’ve been depressed for 30 years, it might take a few turns. “
Patients do not need to be referred to receive treatment with TMS. Most insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover treatment.
“If someone has been depressed and has tried two or more medications, they should call us to discuss their options,” Swofford said.