Treatment for OCD

Treatment for OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder, more commonly referred to as OCD, is a common chronic illness. According to Beyond OCD, it affects one out of every 40 adults in the world. The World Health Organization puts OCD in the top 20 of illness-related disabilities in the world. This makes it one of the most common illnesses for people between the ages of 15 and 44, and it affects millions of individuals worldwide. Thankfully, there are a number of treatment options available for people who suffer from OCD.

What Is OCD?

Before learning how to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, it’s important to understand this disorder. The American Psychiatric Association lists it as an anxiety disorder that causes recurring and unwanted thoughts or sensations. As a result, individuals feel driven to engage in repetitive behaviors or compulsions.

The repetitive behaviors differ depending on the individual but can range from repeated hand washing to obsessive cleaning. In some cases, these compulsions are nothing more than annoying. Other times, they interfere with daily life and normal social interactions.

Some common compulsions for people with OCD include:

  • Cleaning — People with OCD clean to alleviate their fear of germs, chemicals or dirt. Some spend hours cleaning their surroundings or themselves.
  • Checking — To reduce anxiety, some people check items multiple times. One example is continually checking that a door is locked or a stovetop is turned off.
  • Repeating — People with OCD may repeat certain actions to dispel anxiety. This might include repeating certain behaviors or even saying a certain phrase or name repeatedly.
  • Mental compulsions — Some OCD compulsions aren’t as noticeable because they occur in people’s minds. For instance, they might say phrases within their heads or silently pray.
  • Arranging or organizing — It’s not uncommon for people with OCD to arrange or organize items to reduce their discomfort. This might include putting household items in a certain order or in a symmetric fashion.

What Causes OCD?

Despite a wealth of knowledge about obsessive compulsive disorder, experts still don’t know for sure what causes it. Some believe that the answer to what causes OCD lies in neurobiology. The reason is that studies show that the brains of people who have OCD function differently than those who don’t.

Others believe that OCD has to do with genetics, which is why they refer to it as a family disorder. The disease has the ability to span or skip generations. With that said, those who have a history of OCD in their families are more likely to struggle with the disorder as well.

On the other hand, some experts say that environmental or behavioral elements lead to OCD. This style of thinking links the disorder with associating certain objects with fear. For example, maybe people link certain objects with germs, at which point they’re compelled to clean those objects repeatedly.

In other cases, traumatic brain injury can lead to the development of OCD. Studies show that children and teens who suffer TBIs are more likely to develop OCD in young adulthood. In fact, nearly 30% of children who experience TBI develop OCD within a year after the trauma.

To determine whether or not people have OCD, they have to meet certain diagnostic criteria. These typically include the presence of compulsions, obsessions or both. The compulsions or obsessions must also be time-consuming or significantly impact their lives. Additionally, it’s essential to rule out the chance that their symptoms are the result of other psychological effects from using substances or drugs.

How to Treat OCD

No one treatment for OCD works for everyone. Further still, there’s no cure for the disorder. However, teaching individuals how to manage obsessive compulsive disorder can help them manage their symptoms. In fact, the goal of treatment is to help them live normal lives or control their symptoms so that they no longer negatively affect their lives.

Some of the most common OCD treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy.
  • Relaxation.
  • Medication.
  • Neuromodulation.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Oftentimes, the first approach to treating OCD is psychotherapy. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), therapists attempt to change people’s thought patterns. One approach is for therapists to create situations that are specifically designed to cause anxiety. As people learn that there’s no reason to fear those situations, their anxiety declines, which reduces their compulsive behaviors.

Other times, people find that simple relaxation is enough to lessen their OCD urges. Engaging in programs such as yoga, meditation or massage is enough to manage their OCD.

However, these methods alone aren’t always enough. Because of that, some people rely on medications to even out their thoughts. In most cases, they take serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications control or limit their obsessions and compulsions. Such drugs can take up to four months to start working fully.


For many people, TMS is the best treatment for OCD. The sessions typically only last about 18 minutes and involve using magnetic waves to activate specific sections of the brain.

While undergoing TMS, people don’t need any form of anesthesia. Instead, a simple electromagnetic coil is placed on their foreheads. Through this coil, electromagnetic pulses are passed through the skull to stimulate the brain. This stimulation regulates mood, which helps with anxiety.

TMS is completely safe. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration cleared its use in 2008 to treat people who struggle with depression. Since then, studies have discovered that TMS can treat people who struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and OCD.

One of the best things about TMS treatment is that there are little to no side effects. The most common side effect is a headache, and it only occurs in about half of the people who receive TMS treatment. In most cases, the headaches are mild and go away before the treatment is even over. Simple over-the-counter medications can combat the headaches.

Do you want to learn more about TMS treatment? Do you or someone you know struggle with OCD and want a safe treatment option? If so, reach out to Pulse TMS today. We can help you or a loved one cope with OCD in a safe way that might eliminate the need for medication. Call 310-272-5026, or leave us a message on our website to learn more about our free consultation.