KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A breakthrough treatment for depression is bringing hope to many people here in East Tennessee. It’s designed for patients who haven’t been helped by traditional anti-depressants.

Charlie Walters of Gatlinburg underwent Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS Therapy, at the office of Dr. Lane Cook in Knoxville. TMS was a last resort for Walters after she developed a serious, potentially deadly reaction to most anti-depressant medications, and felt herself slipping back into darkness.

“I was getting into talking to people again because I had gotten so deep. I wasn’t even talking to my best friend. I wasn’t talking to even my family members. I would go in my room and just hibernate,” she said.

Dr. Cook and his team use the Neurostar TMS Therapy device, which was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 for use in the treatment of depression and quickly sparked their attention.

“I have people with treatment resistant depression who failed three or four anti-depressants,” Dr. Cook said. “I have people who’ve failed every anti-depressant and I was running out of things to do.”

He says TMS Therapy has a 64 percent remission rate among his patients.

It works by directly stimulating a depressed brain by using electrical energy passed through a coil of wires to create a powerful magnetic field. Energy from this magnetic field activates the brain, in effect, turning it back on.

“I tell people it’s like plugging that light into the socket,” Dr. Cook said.

Walters is grateful for the therapy and says her husband was first to notice the effects.

“My husband and I were sitting at Arby’s having dinner, and he said, ‘You’re doing so much better.’ He said, ‘I have my Charlie back. ‘ And I knew it had worked because I could feel it.”

Dr. Cook says the most successful TMS treatments for depression occur when patients undergo TMS treatments every weekday for four to six weeks, or a total of 20 to 30 treatments. Often there is no noticeable mood change during the first few weeks. In the clinical trials, a small percentage of patients required more than 30 treatments to experience relief from depressive symptoms.

TMS sessions are scheduled in hour hour blocks at Dr. Cook’s clinic, 4428 Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville.

TMS is not the same as “shock therapy,” which is a different treatment for depression involving the use of electricity to produce seizure-like activity in the brain while a patient is under anesthesia. TMS technology is similar to that of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI.

During treatment, patients are awake and alert. They can go back to their normal activities immediately afterward.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy states:

  • 1 in 2 patients improved significantly
  • 1in 3 were free of depression symptoms
  • Had durable symptom relief over 12 months
  • Depression is a serious illness that affects one in five women in their lifetime, and one in seven men, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Several insurance companies will cover the cost of treatment.
  • It’s for patients who have not benefited from prior anti-depressant medications.

For more information, call TMS of Knoxville (Dr. Lane Cook’s office) at 865-588-1255 or 865-588-6425.