Understanding OCD and How it’s Treated with TMS

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric disorder that affects people of all demographics and socio-economic classes. OCD is an adverse psychiatric condition, affecting millions of men, women, and children worldwide. The disorder can be so disruptive if left untreated that it is in the top 20 causes of illness-related disabilities worldwide. Untreated OCD can lead to physical illness, and also cause depression and severe anxiety.

OCD happens when someone is preoccupied with a series of compulsions and obsessions. These obsessions and compulsions lead to anxiety and ritualistic actions and thinking patterns that can severely impact a person’s life. OCD rituals can take up a substantial amount of time, and mental and physical energy on behalf of the person affected. Individuals with OCD will experience anxiety and emotional disturbances. Emotional distress from untreated OCD can also trigger clinical depression in vulnerable individuals.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Effects on Daily Life

How is OCD treated?

It is essential to treat OCD soon after it manifests. Without treatment, compulsions can become more pronounced and cause physical and other mental health problems. OCD is commonly treated with a combination of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and sometimes family therapy.

SSRIs are usually the first line of treatment for OCD.

  • 7 out of 10 OCD patients get relief from medication and therapy. They will see a reduction of symptoms between 40 and 60%.
  • Half will stop taking medications due to the side effects. TMS and other deep brain stimulation techniques can help where medicine has failed.  


OCD sufferers who haven’t been able to find a medication that is effective for them have found success with deep brain stimulation therapies, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

TMS uses a powerful magnet to change the activity in certain, targeted areas of the brain. TMS helps to change the flow of information between neurotransmitters and neural pathways to alleviate obsessions, compulsions, and anxiety in OCD sufferers. TMS enables patients to live healthy and functional lives free of intrusive and distressing thoughts.

TMS treatment is an outpatient procedure that only takes about an hour to perform. Patients are awake during the procedure and can return to work and their normal activities soon after the session is completed. Sessions take place Monday through Friday from anywhere between three and six weeks depending on the severity of the patient’s OCD.

Studies indicate that most patients see an improvement in functioning and reduction in distressing symptoms after four weeks of TMS treatment. For most, improvements hold for up to four months. Not only do most TMS patients see a reduction in OCD symptoms, but they also experience a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms as well.