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TMS: hope in the treatment of resistant depression

When I first heard of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, I must admit, I was a bit sceptical. I struggled to believe that a giant magnet held to your head could help patients struggling with Treatment Resistant Depression. But, as study after study came in, with extremely positive results in traditionally hard to treat patients, I became increasingly frustrated. Why wasn’t TMS treatment available to my patients, here in Cape Town? Depression is a horrible illness that robs people of their joy, their ability to connect, their ability to function. Antidepressants came out in the 50’s and have saved millions of lives.…

What the nurses in my practice have taught me

As a profession, nurses present slightly less to my practice than other occupations. Nurses do, of course, get sick just like everyone else. I think that their “can do” attitudes possibly make them only present when things get very bleak, sometimes to their detriment. They do come in higher proportions as the family member accompanying the patient to my practice. I get the sense that nurses often carry the “medical problems” load of a family. Which means that they will be the ones hauling loved ones in to get help. I have found that certain professions change you as a…

How to love someone with serious mental illness

My gut still churns when I see that look in family members’ eyes. The one of desperate confusion and frustration. The fatigue and anger, especially if the symptoms their loved one suffers from has been ongoing for some time or involved aggression. If your loved one has a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, profound depression, bipolar mood disorder, addictions or eating disorders, it is awful. They aren’t the only ones suffering. You are too. The good news is that improvements for mental illnesses are as good, or even better than, chronic physical illnesses like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. But there is…

Google plus salt, please

The world we live in is truly amazing. We have the knowledge of specialists at our fingertips. But, as Peter Parker’s uncle told him in Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. One of my more anxious patients got seriously ill recently. She was hospitalised and they started treatment. I spoke to her physician and was satisfied that they had things in hand, so I expected her to be discharged within a few days. I was surprised to hear from her a week later. Her physician was running more and more tests, some of them invasive and painful. My patient’s…

Are you moody, bipolar or misdiagnosed?

To suffer from bipolar mood disorder is rough. It is often difficult to treat, with two mood stabilisers and an antipsychotic being needed,¬†before even a bit of control is achieved. This hand full of pills can come with serious side effects like weight gain, sedation, hormonal¬†imbalances and movement disorders. As if that’s not enough, as soon as you get a diagnosis of bipolar mood disorder, you get exposed to the stigma of such a label. People with serious mental illnesses have employment difficulties, get excluded from certain benefits and get labeled “mad” by loved ones. Despite all these problems, untreated…

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