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Stories of Recovery Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Shelley’s seeing the light with rTMS therapy

Shelley Hofer says the treatment she’s received for depression at CAMH has saved her life. 

“It’s hard to explain that you’d feel so low and the only way out is to take your own life,” explains Shelley, who has been getting treatments at CAMH for a decade. “I would have died if I didn’t get this help.” 

Patient Shelley Hofer being greeted at CAMH’s Temerty Centre for her treatment with rTMS technician Caitlin Newberry.
Patient Shelley Hofer being greeted at CAMH’s Temerty Centre for her treatment with rTMS technician Caitlin Newberry.

Shelley’s sought various treatments for twenty years, but traces her feelings of sadness, crying for unexplained reasons, and depression back to age five or six. She’d tried psychotherapy and medications without much relief.

Shelley first met with CAMH’s Dr. Daniel Blumberger, Co-Director of the Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention, a decade ago. When symptoms of depression would surface, she’d get treatment sessions of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). ECT was successful in alleviating depression for her, but came with side effects of memory loss, she explains.

But more recently, CAMH’s Temerty Centre has offered Shelley a non-invasive magnetic therapy without the side effects of ECT. She was in a Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) research study where she responded well to treatment. She now receives compassionate treatment if her symptoms return with a form of rTMS called Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS). TBS delivers three minutes of electro-magnetic pulses to stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (area of the brain associated with depression).

Patient Shelley Hofer (seated) discussing her brain stimulation treatment with rTMS technician Caitlin Newberry.
Patient Shelley Hofer (seated) discussing her brain stimulation treatment with rTMS technician Caitlin Newberry.

Shelley says there’s some discomfort and pressure during the short treatment session, but it leaves just as quickly. She is in and out of CAMH in ten minutes and can drive herself home.

“It’s taken me 20 years to find a solution that works for me,” says Shelley.

Caitlin Newberry, an rTMS Technician at CAMH, has witnessed Shelley’s transformation.

“It has been wonderful to see the transformation occur in Shelley over the course of her four-week, daily treatment,” says Caitlin. “She is feeling more hopeful, is laughing and smiling and you can see the burden of her depression lifting a little more each day. It has been truly rewarding to be a part of her recovery process and to see her get back to being herself again.”

Shelley says, “Caitlin is like that light at the end of the tunnel. In three minutes of treatment she makes a huge difference because of how she is and what she does to help me.”

Shelley’s outlook has changed because of rTMS—she’s looking to the future now. She’s looking forward to seeing her son Zach run, walk and scooter from Barrie to Ottawa this summer to raise money for youth mental health services in their local hospital in Barrie.

“CAMH is a save-your-life hospital,” says Shelley. “I am very grateful for the gift they’ve given me.”

 

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