Mental Health Advocacy

What is Mental Health?

For nearly 70 years, May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month across the nation. With one in five people in the U.S. affected by "mental health conditions," this month-long effort centers on celebrating the improvement and recovery of people with mental illness, so it is best to understand Mental Health by the learning about Mental Illness and possible treatments.

When I was in medical school and residency, we learned about the history of psychiatry including the role of Schneider, Bleuler and Kraepelin in connecting symptoms to diagnoses, as well as Freud’s work to understand why clinical symptoms occurred. These pioneering efforts all contributed to making sense of clinical experiences and to organize our thoughts about symptoms clusters, all with the absence of our current brain imaging technology.


6 Lessons Learned: Treating Depression with TMS

For a long time, it has been widely known that clinical depression is a complex mental illness. Depression interferes with the ability to live and engage in life. It can be challenging to struggle with a depressed mood that does not respond to treatments. And some depression is not effectively treated despite several medications and psychotherapy attempts.


Depression Treatment Isn’t Always Apples to Apples

Recently, I came across an interesting depression treatment paper published in Brain Stimulation that I wanted to review titled, Simultaneous rTMS and psychotherapy in major depressive disorder: Clinical outcomes and predictors from a large naturalistic study.

The purpose of this research was to see what happened with a group of people with Major Depressive Disorder who were treated with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and psychotherapy.


The Impact of TMS Through the Treaters’ Eyes

Eight years ago the team at ThriveLogic TMS + NeuroHealth (ThriveLogic) began providing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as an alternative option for treating depression. Just like medications or talk therapy, TMS is one tool in the depression-treatment "toolkit" providers are using to help people live healthier, happier lives.

Over the years, it has become clear that the people providing the care make a big difference—specifically the people doing the TMS treatments. Professionally, these individuals are known as treaters, coordinators, therapists or technicians....


Change is the Only Constant

It’s believed that Heraclitus once said, “the only thing that is constant is change.” And he may have gotten that right. Recently there have been numerous articles and news features about change, spanning various industries, regions, and cultures.

Some stories that caught my attention, I'll highlight in the following thoughts, but in general, the consistent theme is that change, is about doing something different that challenges the norms, making waves for new ways to approach things in life to gain a different, and most certainly, a better result. However, with change often comes resistance, and no lasting change, large or small, happens overnight. Instead, change takes time, as it pushes people out of their comfort zones.

Examples of Change

A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast that discussed a break from traditional Thanksgiving fare, and how individuals and families were exploring new takes on this holiday meal. Cultural and dietary preferences have prompted discussions and gastronomic changes in the way in which people buy, sell, produce and consume food. While there's always a fad diet or trend among the masses, in the last decade, we've experienced a range of movements, from all-natural and organic to locally-sourced or food-allergy-specific items, such as gluten-free eats. Additionally, people are deviating from the standard grocery store or wholesale food store and opting for local farmers markets or the ever-growing sector of meal-delivery kit services. This shift in consumer-centric change is shaking up the food industry, and it's all about change.

Depression Treatment

An Interview with Michelle Cochran, MD, FAPA: Clinical TMS Society Board President

I recently sat down with an industry colleague, and we had an open discussion on the Clinical TMS Society's role and impact on TMS Therapy and the future of the treatment for depressed patients.

Below are insights from Clinical TMS Society Board President and fellow psychiatrist, Michelle Cochran, MD FAPA.

Q: What is The Clinical TMS Society?

Cochran: The Clinical TMS Society (CTMSS) is an organization of 400+ U.S. and international clinicians, researchers and technicians dedicated to optimizing clinical practice, awareness and accessibility of  Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

How did you get involved with the Society?

Cochran: In 2013, I attended the American Psychiatric Association meeting in San Francisco, California, which was also when the first CTMSS meeting was being held. I heard about the Society and registered to attend and learn more. At that point, I joined the Annual Meeting Committee, and helped organize the 2014 New York City meeting. I was later charged with planning the CTMSS Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada in 2015 as well. This conference grew our membership and established a different directive for our organization by providing significant education for TMS clinicians and technicians. I have remained active on the Annual Meeting Committee, but was invited to participate on the Board of Directors and became a member-at-large on the Executive Committee in 2015. The following year I became the Vice President (2016), and in May of 2017, I was elected President of the Board.

I have developed deep working relationships with Board members and committee members across the world through my activities with CTMSS. I find it an indispensable organization as a physician offering TMS in my practice.


Musings on When to Seek Professional Help

Generally speaking, we do not worry about a bad day or two, or transient emotional discomfort. Life has its ups and downs, and life has "flat tires" on occasion which we deal with, cope with, and move on. Those times do not mean someone has to seek professional help. But instead, the question is when someone should look for help?

There is not a clear answer for everyone. But, I think sooner is better than later. Getting feedback from someone close to you is helpful. Ask a friend or family member and see what they say. Momentary and minor changes may not be anything to cause worry. However, changes in functioning and relationships that persist and are noted by people close to us do deserve attention.


Don’t Let Depression Go Untreated

Depression is an immense health issue. It’s the number one psychiatric disorder in the western world, and according to the World Health Organization, affects 300 million people globally. It’s growing in all age groups and communities so fast that if it continues to increase at its current rate, it will be the second most disabling condition in the world by 2020, just behind heart disease. Plus, depression is the leading cause of presenteeism in the U.S.

About half of people suffering from depression do not get the treatment they so desperately need. Of those who do seek treatment, most improve significantly and experience more engaged and productive lives. Many treatment options can lead to improved quality of life.

The standard of care is to find remission of symptoms and have persistent improvement in the quality of life.


Tend Your Garden and Cultivate Your Brain to Thrive

While I'm a psychiatrist by trade, I do have a bit of a green thumb when it comes to gardening—growing vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees. Sometimes I have been successful, but many times my results were less than fruitful. However, over my 30+ years in private practice, doing inpatient psychiatry and nearly eight years providing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy, I have concluded that humans are much like plants in a garden. We are living at attempting to thrive.

Have you ever had a struggling plant that did better when you placed it in a different part of the garden? Likewise, do you know someone that felt better when they made a job or relationship change?

Just like there are many types of gardens utilized for various purposes from food, aesthetics or medicinal, there are many types of people who all have different needs, but share similarities when it comes to the human brain.