What is OCD?
Medical professional describe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as a mental health problem that affects people of all ages. It often occurs when a person gets stuck between a cycle of obsession and compulsion behavior.
Obsessions are characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts or urge following severe and distressing feelings. Meanwhile, the behavior is often followed by compulsions in which a person engages in behaviors to alleviate to decrease the feelings of distress.
Most people experience obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors at some point during their lifetime. However, it does not mean it’s a part of an OCD problem. In order to have OCD, the cycle of obsession and compulsions becomes so extreme that it interferes with the normal daily activity. The obsessive and compulsive behaviors consume a lot of time that it left the person almost immobilize.
What are Obsessions and Compulsions?
Medical experts characterize obsessions as thoughts, impulses and even images that occur repeatedly outside the person’s control. People suffering from OCD consider these thoughts as disturbing and in most cases, these thoughts do not have valid reasons. Usually accompanied by uncomfortable and intense feelings, people with these obsessions feel those things ‘have to be done in a very particular way.’ For people suffering from OCD, these obsessions are time-consuming and take most of their time away from other important activities in their lives.
Available Treatments for OCD
Conventional treatment for OCD typically comprises medications and psychotherapy. Unfortunately, prolonged ingestions of prescription drugs often lead to drug tolerance or worse drug addictions. With the discovery of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation technique efficacy for depression, it offers a safe alternative treatment for other mental disorder.
An Alternative Treatment for OCD
TMS is a non-invasive method of producing great results which are very well tolerated by many patients. First developed during the mid-1980s, TMS has become the focus of many neuroscience studies and clinical applications. The Food and Drug Administration first approved the use of TMS for treating depression in 2008. Several years after FDA also approved the use of ‘deep TMS’ for depression and two additional devices. Many of these studies show positive results and scientists are now delving into the possibility that TMS can also be an effective treatment for patients with OCD.
TMS is a simple procedure that involves placing a small device directly on top of the head. Medical professional targets the prefrontal cortex of the brain which often associated with mood regulation. TMS machine produces electromagnetic pulses that passed through the scalp targeting certain areas in the brain. It stimulates the inactive brain areas while suppressing the overactive region which results to better mood and behavior.
The flow of the electromagnetic pulses through the device stimulated neurons in the brain-altering its activity levels. Scientists linked these neurons activity to mental disorders including OCD. There are several indications that repetitive TMS or rTMS can improve the psychological well-being of patients with OCD as the procedure can lessen depressive symptoms that often go along with OCD.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Scientists are also looking in the efficacy of deep TMS as another method of treating OCD. Deep TMS uses an H-coil which creates magnetic field penetrating more deeply into the brain. As it can affect greater brain region and stimulates more brain neurons, it shows a lot of great potential in treating mental disorders like OCD.
The FDA both approved the use of rTMS and dTMS for treating major depressive disorders. More studies are being conducted to prove its efficacy for OCD and other mental illnesses. Getting these procedures requires proper and thorough medical assessment from medical health professionals. Depending on the severity of the disorder, they can recommend the best possible method for the patient. Either way, both TMS technique offers safe, reliable, and effective treatment for OCD without severe adverse effects often associated with prescription medications.
TMS Side Effects
There are no known severe adverse effects of TMS. Medical health professionals consider the method as safe when used in accordance with its established guidelines. TMS machines emit electromagnetic pulses like those in MRI, and there are certain limitations for using the device. People with implanted metallic objects, like pacemakers, bullet fragments near the head, deep brain stimulators, aneurysms coils, facial tattoos, and other objects implanted near the head are prohibited using TMS.
TMS is typically done inside the doctor’s office as an outpatient procedure. Patients can immediately resume their daily activity right after undergoing TMS. They may feel a slight tingling in the head, sleepiness, and headaches which usually improved after each treatment session. Doctors usually advise patients to undergo series of treatment sessions. Treatment sessions vary from one patient to another, but usually, have 5 sessions a week within the duration of 4 to 6 weeks.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD affects both men and women of all ages. It has a neurobiological basis regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds. OCD affects people ages 15 to 44. According to research, about 1 in 40 adult Americans (around 2.3% of the entire population) and 1 in 100 children suffer from OCD. Moreover, in a data of the World Health Organization, OCD belongs to the top 20 causes of illness-related disability in the world.
People who suffer from OCD have either obsessive thoughts or compulsive urges that are repetitive in nature. Some may even have both obsessions and compulsions behaviors. OCD is not just having negative thoughts or habits like nail biting. The disorder can greatly affect the person’s performance in school, work, and relationships. Because of the obsessive and uncontrolled behavior, it keeps the person from living a normal life. These thought and actions are beyond the individual’s control.
How to Tell if it’s OCD
Some people develop OCD around their puberty but usually occur during early adulthood. An obsessive thought, for example, is arranging kitchen utensils in an exact manner every morning. On the other hand, a compulsive habit is washing hands for several times after touching something that might contain bacteria. A person with OCD may feel powerless to stop despite its acknowledgment not to do it.
OCD thoughts are obsessions that are persistent and uncontrollable impulses, thoughts, or images that are unwanted and disturbing. In responses to these thoughts, people suffering from OCD still perform certain physical or mental compulsions. Even though knowing that their obsessive thoughts are irrational, they still feel compelled to do these unnecessary rituals. Unfortunately, the reliefs from doing these rituals are temporary; the obsessive-compulsive cycle continues. This often results in helplessness and frustrations.
Symptoms of OCD
Symptoms of OCD include a cycle of obsessive thoughts and a temporary relief of doing so. People with OCD do such behaviors not because they enjoy them but because they cannot control themselves. A lot of people suffering from OCD experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
- A compulsion thought of repetitive behavior or mental act that the person needs to carry out in order to ‘get rid’ of the unpleasant feelings.
- An obsessive feeling associated with the persistent thought that causes anxiety, disgust, or uneasiness.
Causes of OCD
Health care providers cannot pinpoint the exact cause of OCD. Certain areas of the brain have different patterns in people suffering from OCD, but more in-depth research is needed. Based on scientific data, women are more prone than in men. Symptoms often start in teens or young adults. Also, stress plays a big factor in making the symptoms progress. To this day, the biological factor in developing OCD remains unknown.
Several factors can affect people in developing OCD, these include:
- Having symptoms of depression or anxiety
- Family having OCD
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- A traumatic experience in the past
Treatments for OCD
There is still no known cure for OCD, but there are available treatments that may lessen the symptoms. These treatments can help manage the symptoms from interfering with daily life. Health care specialists can prescribe medications, therapy or a combination of both. OCD can significantly interfere with life but here are some of the best treatments for OCD to help keep it under control.
While it is still in the early stages of discovery, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is showing excellent promise in treating OCD as well as all sorts of other mental illnesses. For example, it works well with mental issues like ADHD:
Doctors usually prescribe a type of antidepressant drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. This drug can help regularize the balance of the brain chemicals. The effects of SSRIs can take several months to notice but most people benefit from this drug.
Health care providers usually go for the cognitive behavioral therapy of CBT. In this treatment, the session will let the patient face their fears and obsessive thoughts to better manage them. The therapist will try to distinguish the exact cause of the problem to better address them and help patients how to deal with their stressors in a healthier way.
Some health care providers combine these two treatments; SSRI and CBT. There are cases that patients may need to seek out specialists and other forms of unconventional treatment to better suit their needs.
To learn more about TMS for OCD or to set up an appointment, contact us today!
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a mental disease that is led by -as the name lays out- obsession and compulsions. These obsessions are intrusive thoughts, urges, and triggers that get in the way of everyday life. It can get so extreme that it not only intrudes, but can completely control a person’s entire life.
Intruding Thoughts and Compulsions
While most people have compulsions and intrusive thoughts, we can usually tame them on our own. Even the more persistent thoughts can be tamed by simply engaging the thought and creating closure. With OCD, these thoughts cannot easily be tamed. The brain’s own warning system triggers out of their control. There’s no clear logic to the impulses, making treatment not necessarily difficult, just complex.
Psychotherapy is one option to take to figure out a person’s triggers or the source of their psychological conditions. This therapy can train the brain to combat their impulses by gradually introducing them to their fears.
TMS to Treat OCD
There’s a new way to treat OCD that does not need drugs. It’s the non-invasive procedure of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It is a simple process, but the effect is complex.
With Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, an electromagnet is placed on a patient’s head. A machine generates finely tuned charges electricity to activate the magnet. It then delivers precise electromagnetic waves in pulses.
The electromagnetism excites neurons, causing them to either fire or react as if they have received a signal. One of the common reactions is the ticking sound you feel and the tapping sensation on your head. The strength of the electromagnetic pulse is increased until they see a vivid reaction like involuntary blinking or light twitching of your fingers. The procedure is painless, with most of the discomfort only due to the “fear of the syringe needle” effect.
When the neurons are activated, it can trigger patterns your brain naturally makes on its own. This includes the natural release of Dopamine, also known as the “Reward and Satisfaction Chemical”. This effect is one of the reasons TMS is used to treat persistent and severe depression.
Clinical trials have shown success in treating OCD. Present clinical trials are paving the way into turning TMS into a proper treatment. They are testing the treatment by exploring the brain and finding out where the “inhibitory” part of the brain is.
OCD is an “excitatory” disease. This means that the brain abnormally activates neurons that cause the compulsions and obsessions. By stimulating the inhibitory parts, it can help the brain release the chemicals required to slow and halt the “excitatory” effects of OCD.
The clinical trials were so far successful. They produced relevant data that suggests stimulation of the inhibitory functions of the brain helped suppress the impulses and inhibitions. Like psychotherapy, TMS is training the inhibitory parts of the brain to work normally. This will allow the brain to achieve proper homeostasis or proper chemical balance.
Research into the brain’s inner workings is advancing every day. We keep discovering and rediscovering methods, and even discover new parts of the brain which we thought didn’t exist. Combined with our exponential advancement in technology, TMS procedures can address more precise parts of the brain. Eventually, we can find a way to bring new life to people shackled by their mental diseases.
To learn more or to find out if TMS is right for you, Contact Us at your earliest convenience.