Georgia woman finds breakthrough for crippling depression, anxiety

Linda Evers, of Dallas, Georgia, says she cannot help but feel like she has been given a second chance at life at 64.

"This changed my life completely," Evers says. "I'm a totally different person than I was in 2017."

Five years ago, at 59, Evers, who runs a tax preparation business, took a bad fall off her sister's porch that left her with painful and unpredictable muscle spasms in her back.

When the pain would strike, she says, her muscles would lock up, and she would fall.

"When I have one, it's like I've been hit with a Taser, and I go down," Evers explains.

She grew so afraid of having another spasm and falling again, Evers started using a walker to get around, gave up driving and stopped going out in public.

"I just was afraid to even just walk across a room," she remembers. "I had a fear of open spaces."

Diagnosed with depression and anxiety, Evers says therapy and medication were not really helping.

So, her doctor referred Evers to Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. David Purselle at Rejuvenate TMS.

For the last four years, Purselle has been treating patients with treatment-resistant depression with Deep TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation.

"You essentially get in the chair, we place the magnet, and we do the treatment," Dr. Purselle says. "And, a few minutes later, you're done, and you're ready to walk out the door and go on about your day."

During a session, Evers wears a helmet embedded with a magnetic coil, that delivers magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in an area of her brain involved in depression.

"What we know is that areas of the brain, like the prefrontal cortex, don't work as efficiently in depression as they should," Dr. Purselle says. "So, what TMS does, is, it helps sort of reset that area so that it works more efficiently."

Patients come in five days a week for anywhere from 30 to 35 treatments.

"So, we hit different areas of the brain, depending on what we're treating," Purselle says. "But, it's not going to be anything that's going to change your personality, change who you are, change your thinking."

At first, Ever says, the MRI-like pulses on her skull felt strange.

"I was, like, 'Oh, my God, what is this,'" Evers says. "But, after about five or six of them, you know, the little pulsating thing, you start to relax, and it's like all the fear and anxiety and everything, it just kind of just leaves your body."

Purselle says the treatments can be a bit uncomfortable, especially at first.

"You might feel a knocking or tapping on your scalp while the magnet is actually pulsing," he says. "Sometimes, there can be a mild headache afterwards. There's a very small chance of seizures. So we typically don't use it in somebody who has a seizure disorder."

Dr. Purselle, who uses the Brainsway Deep TMS Therapy system, says TMS may be a helpful option for about 40% of depression patients who do not get help from medication or psychotherapy.

"Up to even 75% of those patients will have a response to TMS, and about a third of patients will actually go into remission where their depression symptoms have almost, virtually, disappeared," he says.

Evers says that is what happened to her.

"More and more, I felt like myself," she remembers. "I felt my strength come back, had my independence.

It's just really, really been a big help with everything."

Dr. Purselle says Evers had a powerful response to TMS.

"Her depression has completely gone away," he says. "Her anxiety is almost gone. She has been able to walk without her walker, for the most part. She is able to drive."

Linda Evers still has back spasms, but they no longer control her life.

She continues to take medication to manage her symptoms and comes back for follow-up sessions when she feels she needs them.

On her recent 64th birthday trip to Biloxi with her husband of 25 years, Evers says she did most of the driving.

"It's just it's just exhilarating, the change, getting back my independence," she says. "I don't want to get teary eyed, or whatever, but I've come a long way, a long way!"

TMS has been FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, smoking cessation and anxious depression.