OCD treatment with TMS

Non-medication treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
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One Patient’s Story with OCD treatment


Non-medication relief for OCD

OCD is commonly treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of both. Depending on the definition used, 30-60% of patients on medication are treatment-resistant, meaning they do not respond to medication or therapy. For these patients, transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, becomes one of few viable options available. 

TMS is a noninvasive, FDA-cleared treatment for OCD patients whose symptoms have not improved with at least two antidepressant prescription treatments or have not achieved the desired results. TMS uses a highly focused, pulsed magnetic field (similar to an MRI) to stimulate the regions of the brain involved in mood regulation. It was FDA-cleared for use in the treatment of OCD in 2018.

Treating both components of OCD, with TMS therapy

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a combination of uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors. The treatment course addresses both of these components with  a combination of elements of Exposure Response Prevention (ERP), combined with TMS therapy. 

Our providers work with each patient to create a “provocation” list which helps activate the specific circuits of the brain affected by OCD. The TMS treatment works to interrupt these circuits which, over the course of treatment, can lead to a reduction in symptoms. Each session takes 30-40 minutes.. The course of treatment is 6 weeks long with a total of 29 treatments.

Peer-reviewed studies have shown significant improvement in patient’s Y-BOCS scores, the standard measurement for obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms. Forty-five percent of patients in the active treatment group had a significant improvement in their YBOCS scores compared with 17% in the sham treatment group.

Side effects of TMS as compared to medication

Because TMS is a non-invasive procedure, the most common side effects include some mild discomfort at or near the treatment site, mild headache or brief lightheadedness, and contracting or tingling of the scalp, jaw or facial muscles. TMS technicians monitor each patient’s side effects, and often these can be mitigated by reducing stimulation or taking over-the-counter medications prior to the procedure. 

In comparison, antidepressants are associated with a wide range of side effects, including blurred vision, dry mouth, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, headache or migraine, insomnia, nausea, sexual dysfunction and weight gain.