Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects 1 in 40 adults in the United States.
The average age of onset of OCD is 19.5 years old, with men making up the majority of early-onset cases (onset before age 10). Nearly two-thirds of people with OCD see major symptoms between the age of 25.
According to a 2007 Harvard Medical School study, half of adults with OCD have serious impairment.
90% of adults with OCD have at least one other mental disorder, according to a study by Molecular Psychiatry in 2008.
OCD and TMS Therapy
Depending on the severity, OCD is often treated using therapy and counseling, along with medication if necessary. Therapy and counseling often heavily involve mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in order to help a patient gain better control over their thoughts and better manage the symptoms of OCD. Medications that directly influence brain chemistry, namely SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), can also play a role in OCD treatment.
The severity and manifestation of OCD varies heavily from person to person, and a treatment that is effective for one patient may have little positive effect for another. One other option for treating severe OCD, if therapy and medication prove ineffective, is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-drug treatment commonly used for depression that involves the use of focused magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain.
TMS is often used as a form of treatment for major depressive disorder, and has been found to be very effective at treating OCD as well. TMS of Central Florida is the only provider of NeuroStar TMS therapy for OCD in Brandon, Florida.
What is TMS Therapy for OCD?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive, non-drug therapy commonly used to treat major depression. The aim of TMS is to use magnetic pulses to remedy the chemical imbalance in the patient’s brain that acts as the root cause for depression, OCD, and other anxiety disorders.
NeuroStar TMS works as follows: a magnetic coil placed on the patient’s head generates pulsed, concentrated magnetic fields of the same type and strength as an MRI machine.
The pulsed magnetic fields penetrate 2-4 centimeters into the brain to reach the left prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain involved with mood regulation—where they produce very small electrical currents to stimulate the brain and release neurotransmitters.
After extensive research into TMS provided by NeuroStar, Drs. Charles Devine, M.D. and Tory Noonan, M.D. decided that TMS therapy was best and most logical course of action in providing their patients with effective treatment for major depression, anxiety, and OCD when their conditions have resisted therapy and medication.
TMS is non-invasive, painless, and has no systemic side effects, unlike medical treatments for OCD, depression, and anxiety.
TMS sessions require no medications or surgery and no anesthesia, and have no undesirable effects on cognition. Patients can have their sessions and get right back to their daily routine with no disruption.
At TMS of Central Florida—the only TMS provider in the Brandon, Florida area—treatment sessions for our patients are performed in our office under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist.
Each session takes about 19 minutes, and patients participate in one session daily for about four to six weeks on average.
TMS has been an FDA approved form of treatment for depression since 2008, and today is used in over 900 practices worldwide. Clinical trials have also demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of NeuroStar TMS Therapy in treating OCD and anxiety as well as depression—bringing much-needed relief to patients who have been unsuccessful with other forms of OCD and anxiety therapies.
When medications and psychotherapy prove unsuccessful for treating OCD, TMS can provide new hope.
NeuroStar TMS OCD treatment may be right for you if you have been unsuccessful with one or more anti-anxiety medications prescribed for your OCD, have experienced negative side effects from medications, or are medically unable to take recommended medications for one reason or another.
- Have been diagnosed with OCD
- Have exhausted all other possible treatments
- Meet the physical criteria to be a TMS candidate
Then TMS may be just the solution for your OCD.
What Is OCD?
OCD is a long-lasting chronic anxiety disorder characterized by unreasonable, uncontrollable, and recurring thoughts that lead to ritualistic behavioral responses.
Obsessions are uncontrollable, reoccurring, and stress-inducing thoughts, urges, and mental images. These thoughts and urges are intrusive, unwanted, and disruptive.
Compulsions are ritualistic behaviors—urges to repeat a certain action or group of actions over and over—as a response to obsessive thoughts.
The obsessions and compulsions which characterize OCD form a feedback loop of negative reinforcement through the process of operant conditioning. Obsessive thoughts cause anxiety and stress, which compulsive actions alleviate; compulsive actions reinforce obsessive thoughts.
Some people carry a genetic risk factor for OCD and are born with a predisposition toward having areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of serotonin.
Like many other anxiety disorders, OCD can also develop out of stressful or traumatic life events such as abuse, bullying, neglect, loss of a loved one, or childbirth.
OCD frequently co-occurs with other mental disorders. Disorders that are often comorbid with OCD include:
- Anxiety disorders such as panic disorders, phobias, and PTSD
- Mood disorders such as major depression and bipolar disorder
- Impulse-control disorders such as ADHD
- Substance use disorders
Obsessions associated with OCD often have common themes, such as a fear of contamination, dirt, or germs, an intolerance for uncertainty or obsession with neatness and order, or aggressive and horrific urges and intrusive thoughts related to self-harm or harm to others.
You may suffer intense and debilitating stress over:
- Touching objects other people have touched
- Worrying whether or not you’ve locked your doors or turned off your stove prior to leaving your home
- Seeing objects ordered “incorrectly”
- Having uncontrollable fantasies of self-harm or harming others, or acting inappropriately or obscenely
Any recurring, intrusive, and unwanted thought can be a symptom of OCD if it causes significant stress and leads to compulsive behavior. Compulsions also typically have themes, though some compulsions may have no logical tie to an obsessive thought. Insisting on following a strict routine, fastidious washing or cleaning, obsessive checking on things or counting items, and demanding reassurance are typical themes of compulsive behavior.
Your obsessive thoughts may lead you to compulsions such as:
- Washing your hands until your skin becomes raw
- Repeatedly checking doors to make sure they’re locked or stoves to make sure they’re off
- Silently repeating words, prayers, or phrases
- Collecting and hoarding things that have little to no personal or financial value
- Constantly seeking reassurance from other people
- Performing tasks a specific, often arbitrary amount of times
OCD symptoms may also manifest as tics—brief, sudden, and repeated movements or actions—such as blinking, grunting, throat-clearing, or body language such as nodding or shaking one’s head or shrugging.
How to Treat OCD Without Meds
Psychotherapy is a key component in the treatment of most OCD, especially cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation. For some less-severe cases, therapy alone may prove sufficient for managing OCD symptoms. Medication is often used alongside therapy to treat severe OCD when therapy alone is insufficient.
SSRIs alter your brain chemistry to correct the chemical imbalances that lead to OCD symptoms. However, these medications mainly circulate through the bloodstream on their way to the brain, resulting in them having an effect on the entire body and not just the brain. SSRIs can have unwanted and unpleasant side effects, including weight gain or weight loss, sexual dysfunction, stomach issues, nausea, and fatigue.
Some patients will have more adverse reactions to medication than others or less ability to tolerate their side effects. For pregnant patients, medication may also not be an option for treatment.
When medication does not work or is not available, TMS often proves especially effective in treating OCD and other anxiety disorders, bringing lasting relief and peace of mind to people with anxiety conditions.
OCD is characterized by obsessions—repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause undue anxiety and stress—that lead to a strong and often-irresistible urge to participate in compulsive ritualistic behavior.
Stressful or traumatic situations which can alter the brain’s chemistry are a common root cause of OCD—such as abuse, bullying, neglect, grief, pregnancy, to name a few. However, OCD also has a genetic risk factor. OCD is often comorbid with other mental disorders, such as other anxiety disorders.
OCD affects about 1 in 40 Americans, with women being roughly three times more likely to have OCD than men. The average age of onset for OCD is 19 years old. Early-onset OCD (symptoms developing before the age of ten) is more common in men than in women.
OCD symptoms can vary in severity. Half of adults with diagnosed OCD have serious impairment, meaning that the resultant compulsions and ritualistic behavior from one’s obsessive thoughts have a significant negative impact on one’s everyday life, including their social lives, family, schoolwork and education, jobs, and hobbies.
OCD is not curable. However, it can be treated in order to reduce the severity of its symptoms and enable patients to manage their anxiety. Common treatments for anxiety disorder include psychotherapy and SSRIs. If these two methods prove ineffective both on their own and in tandem, TMS is also a powerful treatment method for anxiety disorder.