Change is the Only Constant

It’s believed that Heraclitus once said, “the only thing that is constant is change.” And he may have gotten that right. Recently there have been numerous articles and news features about change, spanning various industries, regions, and cultures.

Change is the Only Constant

Some stories that caught my attention, I’ll highlight in the following thoughts, but in general, the consistent theme is that change, is about doing something differentthat challenges the

norms, making waves for new ways to approach things in life to gain a different, and most certainly, a better result. However, with change often comes resistance, and no lasting change, large or small, happens overnight. Instead, change takes time, as it pushes people out of their comfort zones.

Examples of Change

A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast that discussed a break from traditional Thanksgiving fare, and how individuals and families were exploring new takes on this holiday meal. Cultural and dietary preferences have prompted discussions and gastronomic changes in the way in which people buy, sell, produce and consume food. While there’s always a fad diet or trend among the masses, in the last decade, we’ve experienced a range of movements, from all-natural and organic to locally-sourced or food-allergy-specific items, such as gluten-free eats. Additionally, people are deviating from the standard grocery store or wholesale food store and opting for local farmers markets or the ever-growing sector of meal-delivery kit services. This shift in consumer-centric change is shaking up the food industry, and it’s all about change.

Recently, I watched an interesting interview with Principle Ballerina Misty Copeland, who has redefined what it means to be a ballerina. Different ethnicity, different body, and different strategy to help her accomplish her goals. Stereotypes have been busted, as the institutionalized molds of ballet were challenged, resulting in an open-discussion of a change in standards and ideals. Copeland reconfirmed this change with the diversity she brought to the performing arts arena.

This fall I realized the game of football was much different than even just a couple of years ago. Both the NFL and college football experienced a series of rule changes, offensive and defensive scheme revisions, not to mention the players seemed bigger and faster. Then there’s the highly debated manner in which championship playoffs and games are determined and officiated. These “game-changers” got me really “watching” sports more intently, and I noticed that across various athletics, the players and games themselves have transformed over the years. This change is something that I predict will continue to innovate, from athletic performance to the way games are played, and the way fans participate and support their favorite pastimes.

The other day I read an article describing how Operation Song, with the support of people like Amy Grant and Vince Gill, is using nontraditional treatments to help veterans recover from the stress of war. There is an interest not only in healing but also in not consuming something to “numb the pain.” Over the last decade, there has been significant growth in awareness and action among various communities to change the way we approach mental health. This movement touches on everything from how we treat and heal to how we identify and discuss mental health conditions, which typically are more “invisible” conditions than physical. This a pivot in a different, healthier direction for both provider and patient, as well as loved ones.

All these stories have caused me to reflect on my last few years of being involved in providing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy which began as an effort to do something different, outside of traditional medicine, designed to help people. Unfortunately, not everyone with depression responds to conventional treatments, so more options are needed. Sometimes it is a matter of not responding and other times it is an inability to tolerate medications. There was a need to change the way we treat depression, and there was a therapeutic option to just that through TMS therapy.

Given my profession as a psychiatrist, my family often describes what I do as “noninvasive brain surgery.” And that is a good generalized way to think about it. Plus, it fits with my focus on TMS, as TMS is noninvasive and it allows us to effectively alter the neural circuits based on the location of stimulation. Research and clinical experience demonstrate that TMS is a safe and effective treatment for depression that has not responded to medications.

What makes TMS different and the change from constant?

Just like the stories mentioned above, TMS is a treatment that takes the psychiatrist away from the traditional talking and prescribing role and into a position of using technology to cause a somatic change in how the brain functions and thus reduces symptoms. The interaction with the patient remains supportive and interactive while the patient is involved in a more passive role of receiving a treatment that has limited side effects and has demonstrated efficacy and durability. TMS works by leveraging technology and can be effective when other treatment methods are not.

So, yes, change is constant, and it is undoubtedly a very good thing when it comes to how we treat depression, and the outlook on mental health is on track to continue to revolutionize.