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.
What is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that involves compulsive and repetitive actions in a very serious manner. It is an incapacitating psychiatric disorder which revolves in a cycle of:
- Obsessive thoughts
- Temporary relief
Through the day, people with OCD will repeatedly think about a certain task not having any relief until it’s completed. However, these are just a brief moments of relief before starting the cycle over again. In severe cases, patients will hardly leave home because of their need to carry out their compulsions like wiping, counting, arranging things in their home, etc. This obsessive behavior controls most of their daily routine.
What it’s like to have OCD
At some point in our lives, we have all experienced repeated behaviors or focused our thoughts on certain things. But these thoughts don’t end up hindering us from going about our day. For people suffering from OCD, these thoughts are so persistent and intense that they cause difficulty in concentrating until the task is done to perfection. People with OCD will most likely show the following signs:
- Fear of contamination, infection, or dirt
- Excessive need for order or symmetry
- Doing too much cleaning or hand washing
- Repeatedly checking locked doors, windows, and gas stoves
- Fear of losing self-control
- Considerably large amount of fear for causing an accident
- Hoarding or arranging certain items
- Repeated thoughts of counting
What causes OCD?
Many theories have tried to explain the exact cause of OCD but nothing so far can accurately determine its cause. But there are certain factors that can trigger an individual in developing OCD. These include:
- Biological factors (chemical imbalance in the brain)
- Psychological factors (certain behaviors can develop into an obsessive and compulsive behavior)
Conventional OCD Treatment
There are available treatments to avoid OCD from setting in before it takes a total control of the individual’s life. Medications and psychotherapy can provide relief to some people. Sadly, up to 40% of OCD patients fail to have positive improvement using these treatments. Another 10% of them seem to be beyond help.
How TMS can help people with OCD
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS for treating depression. It is a non-invasive procedure which does not require any sedation or anesthesia.
TMS therapy involves an electromagnetic coil placed on a scale that emits current to stimulate brain cells. The electromagnetic pulses excite nerve cells in the brain associated with mood control. The magnetic pulses in repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) helps in modulating brain activity. This principle acts as the basis for treating OCD. In early studies, rTMS therapy stimulation of the frontal lobe showed a positive effect on mood disorder treatment. TMS therapy can increase the activity of this region of the brain and may help relieve symptoms of the disorder.
Today, many types of research explore the effectiveness of TMS therapy. Many of them have revealed TMS therapy shows positive results in patients suffering from OCD. This is true even for patients who respond unfavorably to traditional medications and psychotherapy.