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.