Is TMS an Effective Treatment for OCD?

A Top Psychiatrist in Maryland Reviews the Most Effective Treatments for OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious mental health disorder that can severely disrupt one’s ability to lead a normal life. Some people get better with a combination of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and medication. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. 

Thankfully, CBT and medication aren’t your only options for treating OCD. Numerous studies have found that Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is effective in patients with severe OCD. Typically, these patients have tried other treatment methods first but found that they were not helping them manage their symptoms. 

If you think you might have OCD, you should visit a psychiatrist in Maryland for an evaluation. Researching and understanding this mental health disorder might also be helpful. Let’s take a closer look at the mental health disorder, its treatment options, and the best candidates for TMS now.

An Overview of OCD

Common Symptoms and Types of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

person washing hands

People typically associate OCD with excessive hygienic habits like constantly washing one’s hands or brushing their teeth.

There are numerous misconceptions about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that are still prevalent today. Some people think that they have OCD because they are strict about keeping everything around them clean or they like to keep an organized desk. However, OCD is much more complex than that. 

Obsessions and Compulsions in OCD Patients

OCD is a serious mental health disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of gender or age. People who have OCD tend to get caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. These unwanted obsessions can cause extreme distress. Obsessions can range from having unwanted sexual thoughts about others to having an intense fear of harming loved ones. The fear of contamination and dirt, which is most commonly associated with OCD, can also occur.

Compulsions make up the second half of the disorder. These repetitive thoughts and behaviors are typically done in an effort to help a person neutralize or get rid of their obsessions. Some common examples of compulsions include repeating routine activities, counting, and cleaning excessively. 

Symptoms of OCD

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of OCD include:

  • Excessively double-checking things like locks or light switches
  • Experiencing intrusive thoughts that are violent or sexual
  • Having an intense fear of losing control or becoming contaminated
  • Constantly arranging things to your precise liking

If you have been diagnosed with OCD, there are numerous treatment options available for you. Let’s review each of them now.

Treatment Options for OCD

A psychiatrist in Maryland reviews the different treatment options available for patients with OCD

woman talking to psychiatrist

When you schedule an appointment with your physician, you can discuss all of the treatment options available to you. 

Most psychiatrists treat OCD with Cognitive Behavior Therapy and/or medication. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), in particular, has shown to be extremely effective. During an ERP session, a patient is first exposed to any thoughts, images, or situations that trigger their obsessions and other OCD symptoms. During the “Response Prevention” part of the treatment, the patient chooses to not do a compulsive behavior after their obsessions have been triggered. At the beginning of their therapy, a patient will follow these steps under the guidance of their therapist. But the goal is to eventually be able to undergo it on their own. 

As for medication, physicians will typically prescribe a Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SRI). This type of drug is typically used to treat depression. However, it can treat OCD symptoms as well. In fact, patients who benefit from medication see a 40% to 60% reduction in their symptoms. Some patients will experience side effects from the medication, so it’s important to weigh the benefits of any drug against its side effects with your doctor. 

Are You a Candidate for TMS?

You might be a candidate for TMS if you meet these criteria

Woman in medical procedure room chair, being prepped for transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment

TMS is a non-invasive treatment that is often used to treat severe depression and OCD. 

Sometimes, CBT and medication don’t work. This is where TMS comes in. TMS therapy works by transmitting magnetic energy pulses to specific regions in your brain that oversee the control of your mood. These painless pulses stimulate your brain cells in order to help improve communication among them. Not to be confused with electrical or “shock” therapy, TMS sends pulses that are the same strength as those used in MRI machines. 

In order to determine whether you are a good candidate for TMS, you will need to schedule a consultation with your doctor. In general, people who cannot get TMS include:

  • Anyone with a pacemaker, stent, or other metal objects inside their body
  • Those who have brain damage from an injury or illness
  • People with a history of other mental health disorders like substance abuse or psychosis

Living with OCD can be challenging. But there are numerous resources and treatment options available to help you manage it and lead a happy and fulfilling life. If you’re looking for a psychiatrist in Maryland to help treat your OCD, you are in the right place. At the Psych Associates of Maryland, our staff is ready to give you the help you need to manage your OCD. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!


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