The Experience of TMS
People keep talking about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
Alivation is one of the largest, and best, providers of TMS in the country. We were also one of the first to adopt it as a consistent mental health treatment. The science has only continued to back us up on it in the 8 years since. When you hear TMS on the news, it’s usually in the context of depression and OCD, the latter something the FDA only approved last year. But TMS also seems to have beneficial effects on working memory, specifically as a therapy for individuals with Alzheimer’s[i]. This is an incredibly exciting time for TMS as a result. Its possibilities are beginning to be explored.
We’ve talked about TMS repeatedly; we’ve discussed it in podcasts, interviews, blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, articles, everything you can imagine. We believe in it because it works. But part of why we believe in TMS is because you don’t necessarily have to take our word for it—we have case studies and testimonials from hundreds of patients over several years all attesting to its benefits. We won’t present facts and scientific studies for this blog—we’ll let the words of the patients who’ve successfully completed a course of TMS treatment speak for themselves.
On our testimonials, we ask people to describe their lives before TMS, and their subsequent lives after. We also have them rate Alivation on our performance and services, so we get valuable feedback not only on the TMS treatment, but also on our overall treatment of the patient while they’re visiting our organization.
How did you feel before TMS?
“Anxious, sad, depressed, exhausted, hopeless.” “Prior to TMS I was extremely depressed. I lost interest in almost everything that I was once interested in. I had trouble getting out of bed due to lack of motivation.” “Very depressed/anxious. Could hardly function in daily life, couldn’t find motivation to do every day things.” “Major anxiety & depression & suicidal thoughts constantly.” “Extreme anxiety and low self-esteem and confidence. Inability to focus and remember things. Feeling depressed.” “Most of the time I was exhausted & worried I couldn’t even function most days I felt completely worthless.”
Those are features common to all assessments. Anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, suicidal ideation. The experience in the brain, though it occurs differently in all people, still has similar features. There’s a great overlap in the experiences our patients describe when they come in, and the pain of their challenges with mental health. Many are fighting the same uphill battles when they schedule their TMS appointment.
Since beginning dTMS therapy, your life has changed:
“Anxiety has lessened, less feelings of despair.” “Depression and anxiety have been reduced enough for me to be able to use all resources available to me to improve myself and have much higher self-confidence. Feel confident that I will continue to feel better in the future.” “I have gotten my 1st job in 5 1/2 years I am looking forward to tomorrow. I have more energy. I enjoy doing things for myself.” “I definitely have less episodes of depression (fewer episodes and less severe intensity) I feel like I am more positive in almost every situation, and I now have hope!” “I was feeling better in just a few days. They explained everything that was going on. I didn’t feel like crying anymore. I used to worry about going to work on Sunday nights and that all disappeared. If anyone is having depression, they should have the dTMS.”
We have hundreds more such anecdotes, countless stories of people whose lives have been bettered by the experience of TMS. To see lives transformed is why we do what we do; it makes Next Level You into an ideal worth striving for rather than just a slogan. If you’re having challenges, call us today. We’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure you feel the way you deserve to feel, and have the tools to achieve the self you want.
People Profile: Melissa (Missy) Lile, LIMHP, LADC
For those who come to Alivation Health looking for a counselor who breaks the stereotypical mold, they need look no further than Melissa (Missy) Lile.
She’s been with Alivation for just over a year. She’s seen hundreds of patients in her lifetime, and has worked in a range of professions, including in-patient forensic major mental health disorders, group and individual therapy for drug and alcohol and use disorders, and especially child welfare concerns. She works frequently with families. There’s no couch in her office, no empty platitudes or fortune cookie wisdom. She actually hears the patient when they speak.
While most of us are still figuring out what we want to be in high school, Missy knew she wanted to be a counselor since the 6th grade. A particularly good counselor influenced her decision to go into a field for helping others, and she’s carried that drive with her since. Missy is a graduate of Doane College, Master’s program in Counseling in 2011 and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bachelor’s program in Psychology in 2007. She is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. In addition, she can work with deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, as she speaks fluent American Sign Language, and is certified by the NCDHH as an approved mental health and substance abuse provider. Missy learned the language from firsthand experience: She was raised with a mother who was deaf, and she understands the challenges of being heard.
She’d admired Dr. Duffy and the work Alivation had done for years. When she finally got the offer, she was ecstatic. Her favorite approach also happens to be Alivation’s approach: unconventional. It’s important to her to try at everything, and to think outside the box to fix the problems in the best way she can. She sees around 40 patients a week, sessions last 45 minutes, and she works closely with the psychologists and psychiatrists on the team at Alivation to ensure top care for everyone. She believes in variety, and aligns closely with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model.
Missy enjoys working with teens and adolescents the most. They’re at the most crucial formative stages of their lives, and the opportunity to help shape them for the better and listen to what they’re going through inspires her. She sees people for everything from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol dependence. She’s well-versed in all of it, comfortable chatting over what’s most important to the patient.
She’s so passionate about mental health that in her free time Missy also teaches a physical health class once or twice a week at the YMCA. She’s fascinated by the way physical exercise and movement can positively benefit mental health. To change and adapt for the better is a full lifestyle process, requiring dedication to the whole system. All people who come through the door are unique. Being innovative and rising to challenges and making sure to give therapy a real chance is the key to helping others reach their Next Level. There is validity in an open approach, and great benefits to be reaped from trying harder to be better. Missy Lile helps patients reach that point at Alivation Health.
Investing in Mental Health
It’s not easy keeping up with developments in mental health. Believe it or not, that’s a good problem to have.
A lot has changed over the years. Mental health isn’t the shadowy cousin of physical care anymore. It isn’t just the refuge of obscure theories or psychoanalysis. Mental health care has entered the medical debate as a full-fledged problem to be tackled, and the research community has taken up the call with gusto. New medications for depression and post-partum depression have recently cleared FDA hurdles. Esketamine has also been approved, and every day you can turn on the news and hear people discussing the latest implications for psychological care. Turn on CSPAN or a talk show and you can see politicians and experts discussing mental health in relation to the rash of gun violence in the United States[i].
An estimated 44 million adults in the U.S. are living with a mental illness[ii]. Mental health care spending frequently tops hundreds of billions of dollars every year, which would make mental health the most expensive chronic medical condition in existence[iii]. Reasons like these are why we at Alivation Health treat mental health as the great cause it is. There’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of great people constantly doing that work, often in underserved or even potentially unknown communities. We find problems often where we didn’t even know they existed, and this continues our journey to make mental health care the forefront of personal treatment that we believe it should be. Given how much the U.S. spends on it every year, our approach is justified[iv].
That’s why, despite the many problems in the current mental health care field, it’s always heartening to see spending going to the right places and developing treatments that will benefit everyone in the long run. It’s an uncomfortable fact of our current system that the more money you spend on a problem, the more likely you are to get it solved. It doesn’t hold true in every instance, but in a field that can require years and years of painstaking research and studies by the best minds, it certainly is a fact of life. For instance, after Congress provided an additional $425 million in Alzheimer’s research for fiscal 2019, the NIH is expected to spend $2.3 billion on Alzheimer’s research this year alone[v].
The cutting edge is often cost-prohibitive. Solving important issues range from affordable to outrageous. Mental health justifies high spending by its potential high reward for that investment. Many mental illnesses, ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia, often go drastically untreated[vi]. The cost of lost productivity and benefits to those who cannot support themselves can cost over 400 billion dollars a year[vii]. The amount of good that can be accomplished in this field is astronomical. The rewards to not only the economy but, more importantly, to the lives of the patients and their families is incalculable.
It’s a benefit to now enter a period where we have trouble keeping up with all the rapid developments in this field. It means so many people are entering it, and so many are spending to accomplish the previously impossible, that we just might see solutions in our lifetimes. We feel we’re getting closer. We conduct research and studies at Alivation every month, doing our part to get there. Every year brings new promises of a better, more open field of inquiry and better lives for countless people. To find out more about our studies, or to see currently open ones that might be for you, click here.
Mental health care is one of the most worthwhile investments there is.
Children’s Mental Health Week
While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, within that month is another important week: Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, from May 5th-11th, 2019[i].
This is something we at Alivation feel strongly about.
Often, the mental health challenges we face as adults begin in childhood. Even more importantly, the habits we learn as children are carried with us into adulthood. An attitude of seeking help when it is needed, asking questions, looking for answers and trying your best to treat challenges can be fostered from a young age. To end the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, now’s the time to encourage children to be open and honest about what they’re feeling and thinking. Now is the time to reinforce that mental health can be as serious as physical health, and the two are often intertwined. It isn’t weakness to seek help.
Our patients run the gamut from old to young. We don’t have a single demographic, or a target audience. But one of our largest groups of patients are children and adolescents. We see a spectrum of conditions ranging from ADHD to autism, OCD and anxiety disorders to depression. There isn’t one core issue. Parents often bring their children in because of disturbances at school, during sleep, or general personality changes or problems. Sometimes children are brought in because they’ve had a traumatic brain injury, and they’re suffering mood imbalances or have changed behaviors as a result.
The mental disruption to their normal activities that a child faces can have impacts on the rest of the family as well. It can be deeply taxing emotionally for a family to have mental illness in it, and the stress is magnified when it’s a child. Good communication is always essential to sort out the problem and its accompanying solution, but often young children have not learned about this yet. Many mental health disorders go undiagnosed in children for this very reason. Active, watchful parents can make all the difference in the world.
As adolescents get older, one of the core issues they may face is suicide. Among youths aged 10-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death[ii]. There are thousands of attempts daily by young people in grades 9-12[iii]. Talking with kids is essential. Looking for the warning signs, and actively communicating about not only the challenges they face while young, but the ones they’ll face when they reach adulthood, is crucial.
Although children’s mental health and its treatment provides its own unique challenges, it is worth the effort. We hope that one day, the stigma surrounding all mental illness is completely dismantled, and people, especially the young, feel free to be as open and communicative about their challenges as they would any physical disease or disorder. There isn’t shame in speaking out, educating, thinking and searching for answers. Parents can set the example by treating their own disorders, and teaching their children that there is hope, no matter how bleak it may sometimes seem.
Children’s Mental Health Week is an excellent time to hammer home these important ideas. At Alivation, we’re always grateful for the chance to help improve the lives of young people who need it most. Parents can often struggle to find places to provide mental health care for their children, not only because of cost and insurance, but because of a shortage of trained mental health professionals[iv]. We love seeing parents take an engaged interest in the mental well-being of their children. If there’s one thing we believe in that sums up this week, it’s that there is always hope for Next Level You, no matter the age.
Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Month.
Of course, at Alivation, every month—every day—is a time for mental health awareness. We never let our campaign and our drive to educate people about the challenges people face waver. We take every opportunity to drive home a key point: mental health is real, it’s important, and no one should ever be stigmatized for confronting their challenges and seeking to better themselves. Next Level You is aspirational, not shameful.
Which is why we’re proud to mark this year’s official Mental Health Month. Mental Health America has observed May as Mental Health Month since 1949[i]—70 years of educating, inspiring, informing, and caring. The world of 1949 was quite different from our own. It was the year NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was first established, as was the NBA[ii]. The popular music stars of the day were Frankie Laine and Perry Como. If you went to the theater, you saw stars like Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra—On The Town was one of the year’s big movies. If you drove there, you paid 22 cents for a gallon of gas[iii]. In New York, Rodgers and Hammerstein were the rage. The world was still cleaning up after the decimation of the Second World War. The Soviets tested their first atomic bomb[iv]. The West feared nuclear destruction from the Soviet Union, and polio still ravaged the young and old alike.
Despite these vast differences in the world, one thing remained the same: people struggled. They didn’t only struggle with the world around them, but with the world inside. Mental health was not the much-discussed issue that it is today. Though the people of 1949 shared the same sociological and geopolitical anxieties that we often do today, the idea of treating innate clinical depression or mental illness was still considered the stuff of fiction. The year prior, The Snake Pit film, based on a best-selling novel by Mary Jane Ward, was released. The story is about a young woman confined to an insane asylum, unsure of how she got there or her own sanity[v]. Mental health was melodrama. Techniques of treating the mentally ill included insulin-induced comas, lobotomies, and electroshock therapy[vi].
It wasn’t until a few years later that many of the common techniques began to fall out of favor, and chemists and doctors began to wonder if the problem not only was in the mind, but deeper: the biochemistry of the individual. Experimenting with powders, pills and mixtures, the world began to study and take mental illness seriously. It started slowly, and took decades. Massive amounts of funding, science, and patience led to breakthroughs.
Cut to 2019: Alivation sees hundreds of patients a day. We’ve seen hundreds of thousands over the span of our existence. We expect to see hundreds of thousands more. You can read compassionate, educational blogs on mental health challenges and common illnesses, or flip open any major newspaper and magazine and see it discussed as a fact of life. We’re allowed to say “I am depressed” in the open. We can talk with our friends about their anxieties, their unexplained sadness, why they are afraid, who they can see and what they can do about it. We have medications that work for many of these things, and techniques such as TMS that have no side effects and excellent benefits for many who struggle. Therapy can prove beneficial and noncontroversial for many. Research is expansive in this area, and new breakthroughs happen daily. We take it seriously.
That gulf of 70 years between the first Mental Health Month and now has seen incredible strides. We’re almost a world removed. And yet, the stigma about mental challenges remains in many places. It is possible millions of people have undiagnosed mental illnesses that they refuse to treat because of societal implications. So often, we unfairly judge those who seek help. The battle is no longer in showing mental health is a medical, scientifically-verified issue—that happened decades ago. The fight is to show that it doesn’t have to negatively impact a person’s life, that there is hope and treatment, and compassion can foster education, education foster understanding and acceptance.
It’s a fight we’re happy to continue. To participate in this month’s educational efforts for mental health, download the educational toolkit at Mental Health America’s website: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may. Share articles on social media about mental health, and spread hashtags like #breakthestigma. Talk to your friends, your relatives, anyone who might be struggling. Hear everyone out. Learn as much as you can, and try to spread that on. Our greatest hope is that by the next 70 years, in the year 2089, we’ll recognize all our ultimate victories.