Lydia’s Story

By Jennifer Elliott | Photography by Nesossi Studios –

A friend of mine, Lydia Harlacher, emailed me recently and invited me to a celebration lunch. Yet, it was not her birthday or anniversary. She told me she had been experiencing extreme depression and had finally found a treatment that worked for her. On our way to lunch, she told me what she had been going through.

“Two months ago, I fell deep into a pit of emotional and spiritual darkness. This place was filled with overwhelming despair and an inconsolable sadness. I was experiencing the worst episode of depression in the almost 30 years of suffering with this mental illness,” Lydia explained.

She bravely told me how at one point last summer, she didn’t want to feel the pain anymore and chose to swallow and a handful of antidepressants. “When I finally awakened many hours later, I realized the seriousness of my condition. I thanked God for sparing my life, and shortly after, I found myself googling ‘alternative treatments for depression.’ I’m convinced that divine intervention played a big part in my finding Dr. Kimberly Cress and the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy she offers to treat major depression. You see, it was her name that popped up prominently on the screen on that fateful day,” related Lydia.

TMS is a non-invasive therapy in which a magnet is placed on the left front portion of the head and targets the area of the brain that is less active as a result of the depression. “As the magnet is pulsing on and off, we get an electrical current. Then, the nerves fire and release neurotransmitters. We are able to stimulate the release of chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine,” explained Dr. Cress.

This type of treatment is especially valuable for patients who have found antidepressants ineffective or the side effects too severe.

Lydia said, “For the most part, medication would be effective for a while, and then over time, I would find myself sinking into depression. It has been a vicious cycle of trying different drugs to keep the depression at bay. Tied to every new drug came undesirable side effects: insomnia, inability to concentrate, mental fog, fatigue, weight gain, etc.”

After meeting with Dr. Cress and her assistants Beth Landry and Roxane Zotyka, Lydia was found to be an excellent candidate for TMS therapy. Her course of treatment would include five sessions a week for seven weeks.

“After only five treatments, I began to feel like the mental fog was lifting, and I experienced deliciously restful sleep. With every treatment came pleasantly surprising experiences – more energy, laughter, listening to music, interest in going out again, dancing and a sense of peace.”

TMS has been FDA-cleared for major depression since 2008 and may also relieve anxiety problems. It is even being looked into for other applications, such as post traumatic stress.

Lydia completed TMS therapy on September 11th. She gathered her friends around her for the last session and then, treated everyone to a celebration lunch. “I will forever be grateful to Dr. Cress, Beth and Roxane for making me well. Aside from administering the TMS treatments, these three remarkable women were compassionate, caring and kind throughout my journey to mental and emotional health. It was this holistic approach that took me from a place of darkness, fear and despair to one filled with God’s light, peace, hope and joy,” expressed Lydia.

Lydia also credits her recovery to her loving husband, Gene, her family and friends. It is her wish and prayer that her story will help others who suffer from depression.