Can depression be treated without drugs?

Posted at 10:08 PM, Feb 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-25 22:08:28-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - Rana Culotta Simpson has suffered from depression most of her adult life.

“I would sleep three days, at times 2-3 days not getting out of the bed,” says Culotta.

This made it hard for the 35-year-old Peninsula resident to keep her job as a newspaper reporter.

“I was socially anxious. I was phobic, paranoid. It was very hard to focus,” says Culotta.

She`d tried antidepressants, but she wasn`t getting better. Eventually, she was placed on work disability.

Then she found Dr. Katharine Heatwole at Ocean Psychiatric Group in Virginia Beach. It’s one of only 2 or 3 clinics in Hampton Roads treating patients with transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS.

“It’s pulse magnetic energy to the front left part of the brain, and that stimulates a little electrical current to the neurons or brain cells,” says Dr. Heatwole.

“During my 1st treatment, I actually felt like there was someone tinkering or tapping on my head,” says Culotta.

“That has a stimulation effect on the mood circuit so that it releases the neurotransmitters that are involved in mood,” says Culotta.

“It is based on neuroplasticity and training the neurons to do what they are supposed to do in the first place,” says Heatwole.

The treatment is five days a week for 6 weeks.  Each session lasting 38 minutes. The result?

“Now that it’s at the end my days sparkle,” says Culotta.

Rana`s back to doing one of her favorite things, writing.

“I journal every day and I have every intention of keeping a blog after this treatment is over, like after TMS and how wonderful it is,” says Culotta.