FDA-approved helmet puts Salt Lake man’s depression into remission

MILLCREEK — Jerid Robinett wears a helmet to keep him safe when he rides his motorcycle. He also puts one on for another life-saving purpose.

“I had a really big struggle just getting (by) day to day for a long time,” said Robinett of Salt Lake City. The 34-year-old suffers from depression. “For me, it was just kind of a dark pit.”

It started when he was 17 and about to graduate from high school. He has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs. An uncertain future led to a breakdown and a three-day, in-patient hospital stay. Medication did not work for Robinett. An innovative treatment, however, does.

“Basically it helps us turn on and make fire the neurons that may be sitting there not doing much,” said Dr. Benjamin Thatcher with Valley Behavioral Health.

The FDA-approved cushioned helmet uses deep transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat major depressive disorder. Under a doctor’s supervision, brief magnetic fields go to work at an amplitude similar to an MRI.


“Those brain cells aren’t working properly. They’re kind of hypoactive. This is a way to kind of wake them up,” Thatcher said.

Of the 15 million Americans suffering from clinical depression, nearly half don’t respond to or can’t tolerate medication. The helmet is another option that works. It’s a seven-week treatment, five days a week for the first four weeks for a half-hour a day.

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