Transcranial magnetic stimulation patient featured on KATU news

Transcranial magnetic stimulation helps depression, woman says

A recent U.S. Census Bureau survey found that 34 of 100 Americans suffer from clinical depression or anxiety.

Mental health is something we’ve dedicated a lot of time talking about here at KATU.

Before the pandemic, about 25% of adults said they experienced a depressed mood. After the pandemic, 50% said they experienced a depressed mood.

Medication can help, but many say prescription meds aren’t enough.

Twila Scott, a dietary supervisor at an assisted living center in Rainier, found a non-invasive treatment that delivers a magnetic pulse to the brain. She said it has helped alleviate her depression.

She said her depression got worse when her father died 20 years ago.

“I look back now, and I’ve suffered from depression probably most of my life,” Scott said.

She found the antidepressants prescribed over the years helped for a while.

Enter TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation.

TMS uses magnetic pulses to map and treat the brain. The method has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until about a dozen years ago that the FDA approved the treatment.

“The best way to describe what it is, is to describe what it’s not: It is not medications. It is not psychotherapy. It’s not invasive. The thing it’s most similar to is an MRI, which most people have had,” said Dr. Jonathan Horey of Active Recovery TMS.

He has opened three TMS clinics — one each in Portland, Hillsboro and Tigard. A fourth is coming to Salem.

“Differently from an MRI, where an MRI just takes pictures, the magnet with TMS is close to the scalp and skull, so it actually stimulates areas in the brain that we’re aiming for that are underactive in people with depression,” said Horey.

Over the last few months, Scott has had 33 TMS treatments at Dr. Horey’s clinic in the Montgomery Park building.

Her first treatment was unpleasant.

“It kind of feels like somebody is tapping on the side of your head, although it’s just the magnetic pulse that’s doing it that makes you feel that,” Scott said.

But with each successive treatment, her depression eased.

“Like I told the doctor there, I said I can put up with anything for a little while if it gets me feeling better and gets me to where I can not be taking anti-depressants ever again,” Scott said.

She has been able to halve her dose of antidepressants, and she’s sleeping much better. Friends and family have noticed a change.

“It has been nothing short of amazing. I have had really, really good results,” Scott said.

Dr. Horey said that while this treatment is not for everyone, it has helped alleviate symptoms of people who don’t get better on medication.

Most health insurance companies cover the treatments.

Watch video here.


Meet Jonathan Horey, MD

Dr. Jonathan Horey became familiar with TMS while training and working at Columbia University in New York City where many of the early and important studies on TMS were conducted. Dr. Horey has since completed more extensive training in TMS and keeps himself up-to-date with the latest research on brain stimulation techniques, including TMS.