Marketplace: TMS Solutions offers alternative treatment for depression
After more than 15 years working as a psychiatrist, Melissa Lopez-Larson said she has had her fair share of patients who do not improve while taking anti-depressant medications. When faced with the opportunity to offer her patients an alternative treatment, she was quick to hop on board.
Lopez-Larson recently opened a Park City office of TMS Solutions, a company that provides alternative treatments to patients with depression. The treatments include transcranial magnetic stimulation, which uses magnetic fields to stimulate underactive nerve cells in the brain. TMS Solutions Park City is located at 270 Rasmussen Drive.
TMS Solutions is a six-year-old company based in Grand Junction, Colorado. Christopher Blackburn, the founder and CEO of the company, said Park City is the company’s 11th location, and its first in Utah.
Lopez-Larson has worked as a child adolescent and adult psychiatrist for more than 15 years. She moved to Park City about 10 years ago and worked at the University of Utah. Three years ago, she left the hospital and opened a private practice in Park City, which she still runs.
Blackburn approached Lopez-Larson earlier this year to see if she was interested in bringing TMS technology to Park City. Lopez-Larson had heard about the treatment for several years and was interested in trying it out, but she never had the funds to purchase a machine.
Blackburn’s offer was the perfect match.
“It is one of the few non-medication based treatments that we have for depression. It’s a really nice and much-needed technology,” she said.
Blackburn said doctors have been using TMS to treat patients after they experience a stroke for the last 30 years. Doctors and psychiatrists eventually began to use the method for other brain-related injuries and illnesses. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS on patients with depression. Many insurance companies began to pay for the treatment in the last couple years, Blackburn said.
Blackburn heard about TMS treatments while living in Colorado and working with businesses in various industries. He researched the benefits of the treatment and decided to open clinics in Colorado.
He said he appreciates hearing stories about patients who are able to get their lives back because of the treatment. One of the company’s first patients went from being on six high-dose medications for her depression and suicide ideation to being on one low-dose anti-depressant and returning to her pre-depression life, he said. The success stories push him to keep growing the business.
“It’s become my life work to put these in as many places as possible, because I think every municipality should have one,” he said.
Blackburn and Lopez-Larson began talking in March, and they found a location shortly after. They opened TMS Solutions two weeks ago.
Lopez-Larson said she is glad to have an alternative treatment for patients who have suffered with depression for years.
“It’s awful when you’ve tried your sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth medication and nothing is working or you have all these side effects. People get really hopeless,” she said.
In those scenarios, she said it can feel like she is out of options, but TMS bring hope to her and her patients.
The treatment is different from electroconvulsive therapy, during which doctors use electric currents to cause a brief seizure in the brain. Lopez-Larson said TMS is less invasive and that patients are awake during the entire treatment. They typically have five 40-minute treatment sessions a week for six weeks. Blackburn said some patients complete the six-week treatment once and never experience symptoms of depression again. Others visit TMS Solutions every other month.
“It just depends on the individual,” he said.
Lopez-Larson treats her own patients, as well as others who complete a screening and evaluation. She said all of the patients who come in have depression, but it might be paired with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries. She said the treatment can be used on children ages 12 and up.
The clinic currently has one machine, but it hopes to add more in the future and potentially open an office in the Salt Lake valley.
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