Treatment for OCD with TMS

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterised by unwanted and intrusive thoughts, feelings, or urges (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). People with OCD feel compelled to perform these behaviors in order to alleviate the distress caused by the obsessions.

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What Causes OCD?

It is not fully understood what causes OCD, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some research suggests that OCD may be caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin.

It is also thought that OCD may run in families, which suggests that there may be a genetic component to the disorder. However, it is important to note that not everyone with a family history of OCD will develop the disorder themselves.

Recognising Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Symptoms
  • TMS therapy works by stimulating targeted areas of the brain that are believed to be responsible for some of the core symptoms of OCD, such as intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviours. The therapy uses magnetic fields to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain, which can help to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. TMS is a safe and painless procedure that does not require the patient to take any medications or make any lifestyle changes.

    READ Does TMS Work Long Term?

    TMS can help with OCD by targeting the areas of the brain that are responsible for the repetitive behaviours associated with the disorder. The treatment can help to reduce the intensity of the OCD symptoms and make them more manageable. In some cases, TMS can even help to eliminate the symptoms altogether.

    Obsessions, which are illogical fears or thoughts, are brought on by this mental health condition. When obsessions become ingrained in the mind, they might trigger compulsive, repetitive behaviours that are used to try to calm the distress that is brought on by the unsettling thoughts.

    There are various ways that the obsessions and compulsions might show themselves. These may consist of:

    Obsession: A need for structure

    Compulsion: The persistent want to rearrange things or arrange them “exactly so”

    Obsession: Anxious ideas of danger or injury to oneself or others are known as obsessions.

    Compulsion: Avoiding potentially dangerous circumstances even when they pose an illogical threat is known as compulsion.

    Obsession: Fear of being contaminated by dirt, pathogens, blood, or other external substances is an obsession.

    Compulsion: Excessive handwashing, or house cleaning, is required.

    The function of the brain in OCD is addressed in conventional treatments. They consist of an exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP). Another common OCD treatment is the use of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

    The benefit of TMS treatment for OCD is that it concentrates on those brain regions with hyperconnectivity. Additionally, it doesn’t run the risk of adverse drug reactions. TMS is frequently used as a supplement to medicine or cognitive behavioural therapy for the treatment of OCD.

    READ Which TMS Therapy type is best?

    Depending on their symptoms and the degree of their OCD, everyone will experience varied outcomes. For those who haven’t had the desired results from conventional treatments, TMS may be extremely useful. For more details on TMS, please see our dedicated TMS FAQs page.

    Although TMS treatment for OCD is still very new, early findings are encouraging. It’s an intriguing area that needs additional study.

Recognising Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Symptoms

Recognising the symptoms of OCD is the first step towards getting appropriate help and treatment. One common sign of OCD is the presence of intrusive and persistent thoughts, images, or urges that cause anxiety or distress. These obsessions are usually irrational and can revolve around themes such as contamination, symmetry, self-harm, or harm to others. It’s important to note that everyone may experience unwanted thoughts from time to time, but in individuals with OCD, these thoughts often exist on a crippling scale and interfere with their daily lives.

Compulsions are another distinct symptom of OCD. These repetitive actions or mental rituals are performed in response to an obsession in an attempt to alleviate the distress caused by it. Common compulsive behaviors include excessive washing or cleaning, counting things, checking locks and appliances multiple times, and arranging items in a particular order. People suffering from OCD may realize that their compulsions are excessive or unreasonable; however, they still feel unable to control them. The performance of compulsions leads to only short-lived relief from anxiety but is quickly followed by the return of obsessive thoughts.

It’s essential to consider the severity and impact of symptoms when identifying OCD. Generally speaking, individuals who spend an excessive amount of time each day (typically more than an hour) engaging with their obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors most likely have OCD. Apart from the time spent, the key indicators involve feelings of distress caused by these symptoms, their interference with daily life activities such as work and relationships, along with struggling against their urge to engage in compulsive behaviour.

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OCD TMS Treatment

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This treatment is typically used when other treatments, such as medications or therapy, have not provided satisfactory results. TMS treatment for OCD usually involves multiple sessions over a period of several weeks, with each session lasting around 30–60 minutes. The treatment may result in reduced symptoms and improved quality of life for individuals suffering from OCD.

Which type of TMS for OCD treatment is used?

In the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the type of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) predominantly utilised is repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). The application of rTMS in OCD treatment has been gaining attention and recognition in the field of mental health due to its non-invasive nature and promising results. By incorporating targeted high-frequency magnetic pulses, rTMS stimulates particular areas of the brain that are believed to be associated with OCD symptoms. This approach leads to the regulation and modification of neural activity, potentially reducing the intensity and frequency of unwanted obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Currently, researchers and clinicians are continually exploring the efficacy and safety of rTMS in treating OCD. The most widely adopted protocols involve the stimulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) or supplementary motor area (SMA), with some studies focusing on deep TMS (dTMS) as well. These targeted brain regions are known to play a vital role in modulating cognitive control functions, decision-making processes, and the regulation of compulsions.

TMS is a great alternative for people who haven’t had success with conventional OCD treatments.

In recent years, rTMS for OCD treatment has demonstrated significant improvement and breakthroughs, positioning this non-invasive technique as an emerging alternative for patients who may not respond well to traditional therapeutic approaches or pharmacological interventions.

It’s also non-invasive and has very few side effects. TMS has the potential to help a lot of people who suffer from this debilitating disorder. Hopefully, with more research, TMS will become an even more effective treatment for OCD.

What happens during TMS OCD Treatment?

Diagram showing what happens during TMS therapy treatment

click on the image to enlarge

TMS is done using a special machine which has a magnetic coil attached to a mechanical ‘arm’. This allows for an electromagnetic pulse to be delivered to a precise region in the brain. While receiving TMS, the patient is seated in a comfortable reclined position. The TMS coil is placed above the patient’s head at the correct position.

During the first treatment session, the patient’s individual stimulation dose (ie. the amount of energy required to stimulate the patient’s brain cells) will be determined. This is a unique dose and must be determined for each individual patient. This dose may be rechecked during the treatment course to ensure patients are getting the correct stimulation level.

Once the correct placement and stimulation dose have been determined, the TMS machine will deliver precise impulses to a small section of the brain.

After the treatment session, patients are immediately able to drive and resume normal activities. No medications are given, and patients are completely awake during the whole process.

Where Can I Get TMS for OCD?

If you’re located in Australia and looking for TMS treatment facilities for OCD, Neuralia TMS offers convenient locations near you. Here’s a list of areas where our services are available:

At Neuralia TMS, we understand the importance of personalised care when considering TMS for OCD. We encourage you to consult with one of our healthcare professionals to determine if this treatment is the right choice for you.

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Dr Shanek Wick – Author Bio

Dr. Shanek Wick, a distinguished Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, specialises in holistic mental health care with a focus on interventional psychiatry, neurostimulation, and addiction.

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