Inside the latest issue of Pathfinder International there is an in depth focus on the issues of mental health. Pathfinder editor, Mal Robinson spoke to leading Psychiatrist, Dr Leigh Neal, a former RAF Wing Commander and head of tri service for PTSD about the introduction of an alternative treatment for mental health in the form of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). “TMS was a method of treatment invented in the mid 1980’s and started to be used by the Americans in the 1990’s”, Doctor Neal explains. “It was used for the treatment of depression in 2015 and it is now an established treatment in the private sector, with very few units offering this service in the NHS.” To break it down into Layman’s terms, TMS is a treatment is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve the symptoms of depression. The procedure of TMS is normally used, when all over treatment has not been as effective. “TMS is used to treat a lot of other conditions including alcohol addiction, anxiety and depression and it has done well in some areas and other areas not so. TMS has 60% remission rates for depression and around 50% for PTSD, although we are not quite certain of the figure as yet” Doctor Neal adds. Doctor Neal has treated veterans of WW II, Far East Prisoners of War, Korean War, Falklands Conflict, Gulf Conflict, Bosnia & Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. I asked him if different wars brought about different symptoms of PTSD. “Yes they do. The first Gulf War there was a fear of gas attacks and there was a particular fear on this. The invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq were not too severe, however from later years in the insurgency we saw PTSD rates increase and become more severe, particularly linked to roadside bombs. The Falklands you see a lot of PTSD and this was a combination of burning of ships and hand to hand combat, full scale war.” Dr Neal is registered as a specialist by the GMC and has a license to practice. He was first appointed as a Consultant Psychiatrist in 1994. He was formerly an RAF Psychiatrist, Armed Forces Tutor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and latterly the Hospital Commander of the Armed Forces Psychiatric Hospital. He has a Research Doctorate (MD) in psychiatry and was appointed as an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at Leeds University and at Kings College University, London. He is a member of the International Neuro-modulation Society. He now works in the independent sector and has particular expertise in the treatment of chronic depression, addictions, PTSD and chronic pain. He trained in TMS at Maastricht University as well as various clinics in Southern California; and has been certified in the safe use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) by Maastricht University. Dr Neal is the Medical Director at Smart TMS Clinics. For further insight into PTSD and related mental health problems, read the second part of the interview with Dr Neal in next month’s Pathfinder.

The link to Smart TMS can be seen here: