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How TMS Can Treat OCD

How TMS Can Treat OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that causes unwanted obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, and it affects approximately 2.5 million (1.2%) Americans. 

Typical lines of treatment for OCD include prescription medications and therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure and response prevention. A combination of all these methods can also be effective. 

While these treatment methods are found to be effective for about 70% of those living with OCD, the remainder find that treatment is only minorly helpful or completely inefficient at managing their symptoms. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an up-and-coming treatment used to manage mental health disorders that don’t respond well to traditional treatments such as depression and OCD. 

Venice Sanchez, MD, and the rest of our team at her self-named practice in Newport Beach, California, offer TMS therapy to offer relief for those living with OCD. In this month’s blog, we take a closer look at how this cutting-edge treatment manages OCD. 

Understanding TMS therapy

TMS is an FDA-approved treatment that sends electromagnetic pulses to your brain through a coil placed on your head. Your brain is electrically active, so the pulses sent from the magnetic coil can communicate with the neurons in your brain. The pulses can generate excitement in under-used neurons or encourage inhibition of neurons that are too active.

When you receive TMS, the type of machine, the intensity and frequency of the pulses, and the part of the brain targeted are catered to your specific mental health disorder and its severity.

TMS therapy for OCD

The exact cause of OCD is unknown; however, it’s clear that those who do have OCD have limited neuron communication between the front part of the brain and the deeper structures of the brain. TMS can help to improve this communication. 

Some have thought that an overactive supplemental motor cortex area (SMA) can lead to unwanted obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, so this is often the first area of the brain targeted with TMS. 

If that’s ineffective at helping you manage your OCD, other areas of your brain such as your orbitofrontal cortex (OBC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), or dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) can also be targeted. 

What to expect when you get TMS therapy 

At her practice, Dr. Sanchez uses the BrainsWay® TMS technology, which the FDA has approved for the treatment of OCD. 

During the treatment, we place the TMS therapy helmet on your head and aim the coil toward the region of your brain that we’re targeting. The sessions last about 20 minutes, and you need to have them five times a week for six weeks for optimal results.

The process is painless, but you may experience a tapping sensation while the coil sends out the electromagnetic pulses. For more information on how TMS addresses OCD, contact our team by calling 949-269-6142 or schedule an appointment online today.

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