KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — When medication and traditional therapy won’t cut it, some West Michigan patients battling depression are turning to magnetic therapy.
Michelle Kregel of Grand Rapids is among them.
With a smile that lights up the room, it’s hard to imagine she ever fought depression.
“I would describe it as a debilitating experience with depression. Just a very dark time,” she recounted.
After the birth of her third child, postpartum depression hit Kregel hard. With counseling, antidepressants and help from friends and family, she made it through. But several years later, the depression came roaring back.
“I want to be involved with my children, I want my life back. So when he presented TMS to me, I was like, ‘There is hope,’” said Kregel.
The doctor is Henry Mulder and TMS is transcranial magnetic stimulation.
“We’re always left with a certain number of people who just don’t get better with medication and therapy combined, and this is where we go next,” said Dr. Mulder of Psychiatric Associates of West Michigan, located in Kentwood.
TMS focuses on stimulating brain tissue involved in mood regulation. The magnets placed directly on the patient’s head send small electrical currents into the brain, activating its cells.
Each session takes about 40 minutes. The treatment is five days a week for seven weeks.
Kregel said she could tell when the painless procedure worked.
“I didn’t cry today, or I laughed today. I smiled today,” she said.
Years later, she is hoping to spread the word about how the treatment helped restore her life.
“If I had cancer or broke my arm or whatever, I would go get treatment. And this is not different,” said Kregel.
Mulder says about 60 percent of the people who have not had success with antidepressants and other treatments experienced a 50 percent improvement in their depression with TMS. He said 40 percent are in complete remission.
“People need to know it’s OK. It’s OK that we struggle with this and we don’t have to live like this,” said Kregel.
Mulder says studies have shown the therapy has staying power; patients maintained their positive mood a year later.