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Mental Health in the News: November 4, 2022

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Mental Health in the News

Welcome to Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry’s Mental health in the News weekly update. Below are some current news events relating to mental health and mental health treatments.

Major US Healthcare Insurance Company, Cigna, Decides to Cover BrainsWay’s Deep TMS Device for OCD Treatment

Cigna extends coverage of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) treatment to include BrainsWay’s Deep TMS device. Cigna is not the first major US healthcare insurer to approve the device for OCD treatment; other insurers include: 

  • Centene
  • Highmark
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Tricare
  • Palmetto GBA

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), OCD is a highly debilitating disease that can lead to a lower overall quality of life, and even loss of income. 

Many patients who have OCD are treatment-resistant, meaning that their symptoms do not improve with traditional treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy or medication. 

Deep TMS is FDA Approved to Treat OCD 

Deep TMS is an alternative therapy used to treat a variety of mental health disorders, including OCD. A non-invasive treatment, Deep TMS uses electromagnetic fields to stimulate and change the brain. During  DeepTMS sessions using BrainsWay’s device, patients wear a helmet embedded with H-coils. Sessions are conducted daily for at least four weeks.  

Under Cigna’s new coverage policy, patients can receive an initial DeepTMS treatment if they meet two requirements: 

  1. If the patient shows no signs of improvement (or no significant improvement) after trying two or more medications
  2. If the patient shows no signs of improvement after a trial of psychotherapy that is proven to help treat depression. 

The policy covers 30-36 sessions with the possibility of an additional 30-36 sessions if there is evidence of significant improvement of symptoms for at least two months. 

Getting coverage from one of the country’s biggest healthcare insurers is a huge step forward, according to BrainsWay’s CEO Christopher von Jako: “With Cigna’s positive coverage policy, we have increased the coverage to over 85 million lives in the U.S.” 

While there is still more work to be done in terms of extending coverage, von Jako promises that BrainsWay will continue to work towards expanding insurance coverage for Deep TMS in order to increase patient access. 

To read the original news article, click here.

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BrainsWay Deep TMS ‘Helmet’ Changes Woman’s Life– ‘It’s miraculous, the way I feel. My brain did a complete 180’

For almost 40 years, Lori Jackson suffered from severe depression. Jackson underwent several treatments: electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), IV ketamine treatments, 30 different medications including Prozac, and even traditional transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatments. None of these treatments worked. Jackson has what is known as treatment-resistant depression, which means that traditional treatments do not alleviate her symptoms. 

When Jackson came to Dr. Irfan Handoo, a Kansas City psychiatrist, he remembers, “She had one of the most severe cases of depression I’d seen…She was having active suicidal thoughts on almost a daily basis. And she had given up.” Dr. Handoo asked Jackson to try one more treatment–Deep TMS using the BrainsWay machine

How Deep TMS Works 

Deep TMS is a non-invasive procedure improved in 2008 by the FDA to treat depression in treatment-resistant patients. Deep TMS creates a magnetic field that stimulates the nerve cells in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex–the area of the brain that regulates mood. While traditional TMS treatments can penetrate the brain at 0.7cm, BrainWay’s Deep TMS machine can penetrate 4 to 5cm. 

During treatments, patients wear a helmet with coils. While the procedure does not hurt, the machine does make a loud noise, so some patients wear earplugs. According to Jackson, “It just stings a little…It’s not painful. If it is, they just move the helmet.” 

Deep TMS sessions last around 19 minutes, compared to 40 minutes with traditional TMS treatments. All TMS patients need to come in every day, weekends excluded, for several weeks to receive treatments. 

When Jackson first started her treatment, she scored a 24 on the PHQ-9, a standardized depression rating scale used by doctors worldwide. After her last treatment, she reported a 6: “It’s miraculous, the way I feel. My brain did a complete 180.”

To read the original news article, click here.

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A New Study Finds that Almost 10% of US Adults Suffer From Depression

A new study found that the prevalence of depression has been increasing in the US since 2015. In 2020, 9.2% of Americans aged 12 or older reported suffering from a major depressive episode within the past year.

Depression rose the fastest among teenagers and young adults, reaching 17%. The highest rates of depression were among Caucasians, women, low-income folks, and unmarried adults. 

Depression is extremely common in the U.S. and has reached epidemic levels,” says Dr. Rachel Godwin, one of the researchers who conducted the study. “Depression is a public health problem, analogous to the flu, that needs to be addressed with public health strategies.” 

What Is Depression? 

Depression is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life. Symptoms can vary depending on many factors, like age. Some common symptoms of depression are:

  • Prolonged periods of sadness
  • A change in eating habits
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment in hobbies

 However, depression can also manifest in other ways, like:

  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low energy

Depression is the leading cause of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. 

Bridging the Gap in Treatment

Researchers and doctors alike are concerned about these trends and are calling for more public health education and funding in order to provide affordable and quality mental health care. Many experts are recommending that primary care providers screen their patients for depression during general or routine check-ups. 

Dr. Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist in New York, stresses the importance of preventative and early intervention strategies: “Early untreated depression can result in long-term consequences with additional mental health and general health conditions.” 

Depression is treatable, but despite the growing prevalence, there has not been a corresponding increase in people seeking help, perhaps due to the stigma of having a mental health disorder. Dr. Christine Crawford wants people with depression to know that, “There is no need to suffer in silence with these symptoms…There are treatment options available.” 
To read the original news article, click here.

Dr. Woo has been seeing patients in private practice since 2002, always with the goals of combining evidence-based medicine with psychodynamic psychotherapy and collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients. He has been certified to administer TMS at his practice since 2017. His greatest clinical interests include helping patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

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