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How Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Affected My Mental Health During COVID-19 Lockdown

When I finished my transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment in February, I was curious to see what the next few months, even years were going to be like. Fortunately, I finished my therapy before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit and brought the world to a screeching halt. I am so thankful for the timing of this.

The beginning of COVID-19 was very stressful for me due to the lack of information and the unknown. As much as I want to think I adapt to things quickly, I don’t and I am genuinely terrible at dealing with the unexpected. When COVID-19 started, and there was no true information coming out, and on top of having to quarantine, I was sure I would lose it. I mean, it was the recipe for the perfect disaster. I was going to be trapped in my home till who knows when, with the intense fear of getting sick.

Some of the triggers for my anxiety include feeling out of control and getting sick. The story behind that is one for another time, but my fear of getting ill did not mix well with the unknown of COVID-19. What I did not expect is how much my TMS treatment would help me get through the next few months.

For those who don’t know, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy targets the area of your brain involved in mental illness. Depression causes decreased activity in your synapses in your brain. The purpose of TMS is to gently send magnetic pulses to the nerve cells in your brain to make them active again. Once this happens, your symptoms of depression decrease. I went through 35 treatments, five days a week for two months to help my depression, and it did!

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As I said before, I never expected this treatment to help me so much and come in handy at such a perfect time. I genuinely believe that without TMS therapy, I would have not been able to get through quarantine, which is primarily isolation. I know myself well enough to know that my depression would have gone into overdrive during that time. I would have rarely gotten out of bed, experienced intense and frequent crying spells, and been a ball of nerves. I would have likely experienced frequent and debilitating panic attacks and have been extremely difficult to deal with.

Luckily, that has not been the case. While I still experience the occasional panic attack and anxiety, it is nowhere near as bad as it has been in the past. The beginning of quarantine was essentially the tell-all for whether my TMS treatment had worked. For context, my anxiety stems from feeling a lack of control or trapped. I begin to feel anxious when I feel out of control of a situation, or like my boundaries are being threatened. Now, I am someone who enjoys spending time at home. I am the definition of a homebody. So, in all honesty, quarantine was not that different from my normal routine, minus running errands and seeing people.

Self-quarantine did come with a few hang-ups, though. I do not do well with feeling forced to do something. Maybe that isn’t a desirable characteristic, but it’s there. So when I was forced to stay home, per my city’s orders, it created some anxieties for me. In addition, I felt extremely trapped. It was like I was sentenced to my tiny apartment with no end in sight. That did not sit well. I began to experience old feelings of being out of control and trapped somewhere I don’t want to be. If it was not for TMS, I would have resorted to old patterns. Those patterns are destructive to the progress I have been making before this started. I would’ve never gotten out of bed, had a difficult time focusing on work, cried or slept most of the day, and been physically ill.

Thankfully, the results of my extensive TMS therapy proved it worked during this time.

Things truly happen for a reason. If I never would have experienced rock bottom, I never would have found TMS therapy. If I would have never found TMS therapy, who knows what would have happened to me during this pandemic. Timing is everything, and even when it seems nothing is going right, you never know what the future will bring.

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Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

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