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.