The pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on major healthcare issues facing the nation, reports that in 2020 about four of 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from one in 10 adults who reported these symptoms in 2019.
Amy Erber, the founder and medical director of Bright Mind TMS, an integrative psychiatric practice in Bend, has observed these increases as well. People who have never been impacted by feelings of anxiety and/or depression are now seeking help, she says, and those who have had these mental health issues in the past are showing an exacerbation of symptoms. “I think that isolation and social distancing has significantly contributed to that,” says Erber. “We’ve also seen a big increase in mental health issues in youth.” Today, we have not only conventional treatments for anxiety and depression, but there are alternative treatments for those who may have not responded to the more traditional approaches in the past. Here, Erber answers questions about Bright Mind TMS and the more unique treatments it offers.
I understand Bright Mind uses a treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). What is this and why is it helpful with treating mental health issues?
TMS has been FDA approved since 2008 for individuals with treatment-resistant depression. More recently, it has been approved for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD.) It is a safe non-pharmacological treatment that uses a powerful magnetic field to directly stimulate neurons that are typically unde ractive in people who have depression. It promotes that production of proteins in the brain that encourage neuroplasticity, helping the brain rewire and make stronger connections. It’s like physical therapy for the brain; it helps puts the brain in an optimal state to engage in the treatments and activities that promote long-standing remission of depression. After a course of TMS, people are generally able to engage in therapy and lifestyle practices that promote sustainable recovery from depression, so we do lifestyle coaching about sleep hygiene, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and stress reduction.
You also provide Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) in your clinic. What is this and why do you use it?
Ketamine is the first legal means of providing psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to target symptoms of depression, anxiety, OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Integrity and safety are most important to us and we are offering racemic ketamine, which has powerful and broad applications, in a ketamine-assisted-psychotherapy (KAP) framework. Treatment with us is includes attention to the set(mindset of client), setting (delivery environment/staff), and integration of the experience. That involves thoughtful preparation for the experience, a safe and supportive delivery of the ketamine, and focus on helping clients make meaning of the experience to promote durable and actionable outcomes. Many people report that ketamine helps relieve symptoms of severe anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, promoting increased feelings of contentment and the ability to be fully present with themselves and their loved ones.
What is the overall atmosphere of Bright Mind TMS?
Our office is next to the river which is very therapeutic. We also have a lot of natural elements in our office which send a signal of safety to the nervous system. We have used a calm, neutral color palette that highlights colors found in nature and a ton of plants. It’s very complementary to what we do and what people who are coming to us need.
What else do you want people with mental health issues to know about Bright Mind TMS?
Integrity, safety, and personalized, high-quality care are most important to us. My goal right now is to provide education to the community, both the healthcare providers and individuals, about these integrative treatments. Many of us who are providing psychedelic-assisted-psychotherapy and TMS are concerned that the focus on monetization and scaling of these modalities may affect their healing potential. I encourage those interested to take the time to ask detailed questions about the therapeutic setting in which they are delivered to make sure that your experience maximizes your chance for healing. BrightMindTMS.com