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TMS for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
TMS is FDA approved for treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [OCD]. TMS has proved to be 2-3 times more effective in resolving OCD than anti-depressant medications and/or talk therapy.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by unwanted, intrusive, and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, or sensations -(obsessions); and engagement in behaviors, rituals, or mental acts – (compulsions), which are a response to the obsessions. Most often, an OCD sufferer performs the compulsions to temporarily eliminate or reduce the affect of the obsessions, as failing to perform the compulsion causes great distress. OCD varies in severity, but it often profoundly limits one’s ability to function normally at work, school, or home.
OCD is estimated to affect more than 2 million people in the US, alone. OCD is often accompanied by other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. It commonly manifests in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.
- Obsessions – recurring thoughts, urges, or images, which are considered intrusive and unwanted and which cause distress and anxiety. The sufferer attempts to ignore, suppress, or neutralize these obsessions by substituting a different thought or action.
- Compulsions – repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the sufferer feels compelled to carry out in response to an obsession, or based on self-imposed strict rules. The compulsions are exercised in an effort to counter anxiety or distress, or to prevent a feared event or situation; but they are actually not connected to these feared outcomes, or they are highly excessive, if they are somehow connected.
These obsessions or compulsions occupy more than one hour per day or they cause clinically significant distress or impairment to the sufferer.
Obsession content can vary widely, but it often revolves around thoughts of contamination, perfectionism and order, taboo thoughts related to sex or religion, and harming oneself or others.
In response to their obsessions, OCD sufferers perform compulsions, which may include behaviors like washing; counting objects; seeking reassurance; or checking (ovens, doors, lights, etc). Compulsions may also include mental activities that are not outwardly observable. In the OCD sufferer, compulsions may temporarily relieve feelings created by an obsession, including anxiety, distress, or the feeling that something is not right.
Those who suffer from OCD may avoid people, places, or anything that may trigger their obsessions and compulsions. They also often espouse dysfunctional beliefs that can include a heightened sense of responsibility, the inability to tolerate uncertainty, a high level of perfectionism, or an exaggerated concept of the significance of troubling, intrusive thoughts.
The severity of OCD symptoms can vary over time, but the disorder can persist for a life-time, if untreated.
OCD sufferers frequently experience additional forms of mental illness. An estimated 75% of adults with OCD are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder); more than 50% are diagnosed with a depression or bipolar disorder; and up to 30% have a tic disorder. and excoriation disorder.
FDA Approved TMS Treatment for OCD
OCD prevents those who suffer from it from normal, functionality at home, at work, and in relationships. It is imperative to obtain effective treatment for OCD in order to restore mental health, and to treat the attendant disorders that accompany it.
TMS therapy has proven to be a highly effective and safe treatment for OCD. Our San Diego Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Center provides TMS Therapy for OCD.
If you’d like to learn more about our the treatment process, please visit our TMS Procedure page.
TMS benefits include:
- High Success Rate – considerably higher success rate than any other treatments
- Non-Invasive – the treatment is entirely external to the body
- Non-Sedative – it requires no sedation and is relatively painless
- Minimal to No Side Effects – it has no side effects in the vast majority of patients
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Does TMS help OCD?
Current studies suggest TMS is helpful in treating OCD. Work presented at a conference in Copenhagen stated that 6 weeks of 20Hz “deep TMS” reduced symptom severity of OCD by an average of 30%. Though TMS for OCD is early development and different strategies are being explored, multiple studies report positive benefits.
How does TMS work for OCD?
When TMS is used for OCD, it targets a part of the brain called the “pre-supplementary motor area” (pre-SMA) with magnetic frequencies. This part of the brain is associated with hyperactivity in those with OCD, as well as the inferior frontal gyrus and the subthalamic nucleus. Though targeting the pre-SMA seems to be the most effective way to use TMS, further research is needed to explore other regions of the brain.
Is TMS FDA approved for OCD?
The FDA permits the marketing of TMS for OCD, though the procedure is not FDA approved. The FDA recognizes TMS for OCD as another potentially effective option, especially in those with treatment-resistant OCD. As current studies publish findings, we may see the push for FDA approval to accelerate.
How effective is TMS in treating OCD?
What is the TMS protocol for OCD?
There is no standard protocol in TMS for OCD. As research develops, a standard protocol for treating OCD with TMS may arise. Current evidence suggests that low-frequency (1Hz) and continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) can inhibit excitatory behavior in the brain. Using this protocol on hyperactive parts of the brain like the pre-SMA may effectively counter-balance neurochemistry.
Scholarly Research and Publications