Clearing the fog: My experience with rTMS
Anonymously written by a Nightingale Hospital patient, after the completion of their rTMS treatment.
Depression for me felt like somewhat of a ‘fog’ over everything you do and everything you think. Sometimes the fog is heavy, and you can barely navigate through it. The smallest tasks feel like wading through thick treacle and the majority of your thoughts are tainted with negativity and deep sadness. Other times the fog is more of a mist, and you can get more done or feel a bit better about yourself or life, but the mist is still there, lurking and consuming.
“Having rTMS treatment (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) at Nightingale Hospital has lifted the fog to the point where I can honestly ay it is one of the best things I have ever chosen to do for myself and my well-being, and I have been so pleased with the outcome.”
I am a creative person and enjoy writing and reading as well as being a self-confessed film lover. I had also had depression for 10 years at the time of seeking rTMS from Nightingale Hospital. I had tried antidepressants in the past and found that whilst they usually did work for my mental state and helped me feel less depressed, the significant side effects I experienced were intolerable and left me unable to continue on them. I also had CBT for depression but found this did not work for me as I had always felt that there was no real ‘reason’ for my depression, that it was just my biology, the way my brain was wired. After these experiences, I was left wondering, ‘What next?”. ‘Maybe I might always be depressed.’
I was worried about the prospect that there might not be anything else out there to help me which wasn’t invasive or causing me awful side effects.
A psychiatrist thought it could be a good idea to have a genetic test, to see which treatments could be more beneficial to me in line with my own personal genes. The results of the test indicated that people with my specific genetic profile had a more positive response to rTMS for depression than people of some other genetic variations. This result, combined with my own research into rTMS and reading about good patient outcomes, gave me the confidence I needed to pursue it further.
I had a great experience with rTMS at Nightingale Hospital from the outset. My consultant psychiatrist, Dr Michael Craig, was incredibly helpful in answering any questions I had, and I found him to be very validating of my experiences with depression. I felt comfortable speaking freely without judgement. This really helped with making the experience a more positive one and gave me more confidence to step into the ‘unknown’ – in the sense of undergoing a new treatment.
During my treatment sessions themselves, my rTMS practitioner, Naz, really put me at ease and made me feel very comfortable. Given the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was apprehensive before the treatment sessions initially began but I felt very happy with the safety procedures in place* in the rTMS room and felt safe while receiving my treatment, which is a testament to Naz and her care and professionalism.
Since completing my sessions, I have been feeling so much better.
My mental health has improved immensely and I feel like my appreciation of life has been restored. I no longer look at my future as a dark and gloomy place. Instead, I see a realm of possibilities. I’m more motivated and hopeful and look forward to things in a way that I didn’t before. I am enjoying a more positive self-image and have an interest in reading and writing again, pursuits I wasn’t able to fully engage with or enjoy during the depression. Aspects of my personality which had been dulled by depression are now back at the forefront, like my humour and enjoyment of the little things in life. I feel strengthened and enriched by my experience and I am so happy that rTMS has had such a positive effect on me.
My advice to anyone who is thinking about pursuing rTMS would be to give it a go. I especially would recommend it if you have been struggling with the side effects of antidepressants, or if they just haven’t worked for you. Don’t think that there’s nowhere else to turn for your depression if you’ve tried other things and they’ve been unsuccessful. There is another option out there in rTMS, and it might just work for you.
rTMS at Nightingale Hospital is delivered in partnership with MagnaCentre™.
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Professor Michael Craig
Professor of Psychiatry (King's College London)