VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Ben Wallick served in SEAL Team 2 out of Little Creek. He left the service in 2010 and went back home to Peoria, Illinois, to be a firefighter.
It wasn’t long after he began having symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“From the time I woke up in the morning 'till I went to bed, I had a bounding pulse," Wallick said. "Even if I was watching a movie with my kids or whatever, I felt like I was in fight or flight.”
He’d go three days with no sleep, despite being on several sleeping pills and depression medications. He couldn’t eat and lost 30 pounds.
"It got to the point where I was hospitalized and basically was non-functional," he recalled.
A friend told him about a non-drug treatment called Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy. It's used to treat depression, and as we recently reported, shown positive results in kids with autism.
So, Wallick came down to Virginia Beach for the six-week treatment at Neucoa Clinic.
"The device itself is a repetitive transcranial stimulation device; that's the hardware.”
A large wand sends short bursts of electric current into the brain. It feels like a light tapping.
“Being able to provide his treatment and then see within 10 days the changes on his clinical scales, but every day as I’m sitting and talking with him and seeing that slow change or sometimes it was quick.”
"I started noticing stuff in the first week, just little things. I started to fall asleep and stay asleep longer," Wallick said.
After two weeks of daily treatment, Wallick was off all of his medications.
"I was back in the gym working out, and I was sleeping seven, eight, sometimes nine hours. The depression just started vanishing away, like, super fast," he said.
Physician's Assistant David Day says the treatment is like clearing pathways in the brain.
"It's kind of like driving up on the 64 going to Williamsburg. You can take the HOV lane, where it's nice, smooth sailing most of the time, or you can take the other traffic where there is a lot of chaos going on," Day explained.
And it's that feeling of chaos Wallick says that can have tragic consequences.
"Some of the guys I worked with and did some platoons with have taken their lives from mental health things," he said. “I just wish they had tried this treatment and maybe it could have reversed some of the trajectories they were on.”
Thankfully for Wallick, he was able to find a treatment and get his life back.
There are several non-profit groups that will help pay for the MeRT treatment for veterans and active duty military. Please see below for links to those groups: