Treating Depression Without Medication

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An estimated 16 million people in this country are treated for depression every year.  That number doesn't count people who haven't yet sought help.  In many cases, medication is an effective way to get some relief, but there's another, newer way some doctors are trying.

Lorraine, of West Pittston, who didn't want to share her last name, said she has battled depression for many years.

"People don't understand depression. You don't want to be depressed, you just fall into that darkness.  I wasn't able to sleep at night, crying, just not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to leave the house," she said.

Lorraine is a longtime patient of Dr. Matthew Berger, a psychiatrist practicing in Moosic.  They realized she didn't react well to traditional prescriptions.  She couldn't tolerate the side effects.

"I tried every kind of medication and nothing worked," said Lorraine.

"A lot of our traditional medications can have side effects. Patients don't want to be on them all the time, then there are some drug-to-drug interaction. So this is in a way cleaner because you don't have to put anything into your body," said Dr. Berger.

Dr. Berger is talking about TMS, or Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation, which gives a very focused, high-intensity pulse to a specific part of the brain.

He explains it this way: TMS targets an area called the dorsal lateral pre-frontal cortex, the "control center" for emotion.  It sends signals to other areas of the brain that control mood.  It's a relatively new treatment since 2008, but Dr. Berger calls it a growing trend across the country.

In his office it's used about six times a day, since each treatment takes about an hour.

"Nothing works for everyone. But in general we have had a very good response," said Dr. Berger.

Lorraine said she feels relaxed during her treatment, just a slight tapping on her head. She is almost through with her course of treatment and says it has made a difference.

"I feel it's worked.  I'm not sad as I was, I don't cry like I did for nothing," said Lorraine.


  • Justin

    There really is no cure for depression, you can take all the medicines and other things to help put a lid on it, but sadly it’s a lifelong struggle.

  • Lorraine

    I was depressed many years ago when going through peri-menopause. I tried the anti-anxiety pills and anti-depression pills and they made me feel like a zombie. I was living in a fog and couldn’t perform my job well anymore. So I stopped taking them after about 2-3 weeks, I weaned myself off them really. Then I taught myself to meditate and do deep yoga breathing to help me calm down when I was feeling anxiety. I also had to learn to not worry over things I have no control over. It’s been about 6 years now and I’m doing much better.

  • Muggzie

    That is shock treatment which they used to use way back when there was no medications. They zap your brain. They don’t do it once, but several. This makes people act like zombies. I just dropped him as a doctor because he is nothing more than a pill pusher. Remember he was written about being in the top 5 doctors in the COUNTRY who promotes the drug companies.

    He has my sister so messed us, she does not know what she is doing.

    • true_archer

      Yeah, I thought is sounded somewhat like electro-therapy but I am sure the environment, dosage etc…is more sophisticated now, however, not a fan of this idea either. Cognitive restorative therapy would go a lot farther in helping these people.

    • true_archer

      Something has to be addressed as an answer to the plethora of psych drugs which are ineffective at most, a deterrent at best, and a danger at worst; given even to children. I know someone tell me that a doc tell the family a 3 yr old was bi-polar and discussed medication. Oh the horror of it all! Cognitive therapy is the best weapon but the key is to be an active participant and be cognizant, as a parent in the case of children who are struggling; they have to be the active participant which goes a lot further than popping a pill in their kids’ mouths! Did anybody ever read the side effects of this poison? May cause thoughts of suicide, may cause death my a dozen other means..and so on…stop the madness!And before someone starts in with the mantra,”oh you don’t know what it’s like for yourself or someone you love to be struck down by mental illness,” that’s bull. What family hasn’t?

  • tom

    At this time in the USA-who isn’t depressed?our govt whines about social security running out-healthcare is a stupid system(exspensive and no one is really cured of anything.We are rushed in & out of Drs. & hospitals).I am going to be of retirement age age in a few years-i won’t get a cist of living raise-ever with SS.(although congress gets one-why I don’t know.Future is uncertain for us all.The govt. is letting illegal immigrants take over-why I don’t know-ruining our American life.We will be bombarded with the stupid elections.( promises that they aren’t telling us how they will accomplish anything).i you are not depressed-God bless you.

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