Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety-related mental disorder that affects millions of people across the United States and around the world. For someone with OCD, an ongoing cycle of obsessive thoughts and intrusive urges triggers feelings of distress that can only be eased by performing specific repetitive behaviors, which are called compulsions.
While medication, psychotherapy, and other time-honored OCD solutions have helped many people gain the upper hand over obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, conventional OCD treatment strategies don’t provide adequate symptom relief and control for everyone.
Fortunately, ongoing innovations in neuroscience and psychiatry have made it possible to take control of treatment-resistant OCD simply by restoring normal brainwave patterns. Here’s what you should know about personalized repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (PrTMS), the groundbreaking new solution for people with incessant OCD.
Virtually everyone has intrusive thoughts or unusual urges sometimes. But while most people find it relatively easy to shift their stream of consciousness away from such thoughts and urges, people with OCD can only escape them through compulsive behaviors.
As a chronic mental health disorder with neurobiological origins, OCD is defined as having obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that take up an excessive amount of time each day and create a substantial amount of distress.
Obsessions are uncontrollable thoughts, images, or urges that occur repeatedly. Common obsessions include the desire for perfect symmetry, concerns about contamination or germs, and unwanted aggressive thoughts.
Because OCD obsessions are unwelcome and uncomfortable, they often give rise to intense feelings of distress, disgust, doubt, or fear. To suppress these obsessive thoughts and feelings, people with OCD perform compulsive behaviors like checking, counting, arranging, or washing and cleaning.
Even though compulsive behaviors help take the edge off obsession-driven distress and anxiety, relief only lasts until the next OCD thought-behavior cycle takes over.
Unfortunately, the very same compulsive behaviors that provide relief from obsession-driven anxieties can also help reinforce obsessions and intensify the cycle of OCD behavior over time. Left untreated, this continuous pattern tends to worsen until it becomes so disruptive that it interferes with almost every aspect of normal life.
While OCD can’t be cured completely, the right treatment approach can help many people reduce their symptoms enough to regain full control over their daily lives. Usually, this means taking medication and receiving some form of psychotherapy.
Some people experience noticeable symptom improvement with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), medications that increase the amount of serotonin in your brain to promote better communication between nerve cells. Others find that anti-anxiety medication is the best way to reduce compulsive behaviors brought on by obsession-induced anxiety.
Many people find that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) helps a great deal. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that aims to change the way you feel by changing the thinking and behavioral patterns that make you feel that way.
Although conventional OCD treatment strategies have helped many people keep their condition under control, medication and psychotherapy simply aren’t helpful enough for some people. Luckily, there’s a powerful new OCD solution that may help make treatment-resistant OCD a thing of the past.
Personalized repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (PrTMS) is a noninvasive treatment that uses safe, low-amplitude magnetic pulses to target faulty brainwave patterns which may improve OCD symptoms.
Like people with depression and anxiety, people with OCD appear to have abnormal brain arrhythmias that hold them in a perpetual loop of “wrong” thoughts and behaviors that’s difficult to break out of.
Researchers believe that the irregular brainwave patterns of OCD may cause your brain to follow most “error” signals while ignoring most “stop” signals. PrTMS aims to restore normal brainwave patterns by sending brief, rapid pulses of low-amplitude magnetic energy into the specific area of your brain that controls these responses.
As your brainwaves return to normal over the course of your PrTMS treatment, you can expect your OCD symptoms to gradually subside. In fact, many patients with treatment-resistant OCD see marked improvement within a few short weeks.
Your PrTMS plan
Here at MindSet in San Diego, California, PrTMS is a fully customized treatment from start to finish. To develop your individualized plan, we perform a comprehensive evaluation of your current brain function that includes a PeakLogic ComfortScan™ electroencephalogram (EEG) as well as a neurocognitive assessment.
Having periodic EEGs over the course of your treatment serves two purposes — it allows you to see evidence of changing brainwave patterns in real time, and it allows us to dynamically adjust your treatment protocol to keep it as targeted as possible from start to finish.
If you’d like to learn more about PrTMS, we can help. Call our office today or click the online booking tool to schedule an appointment with one of our Kevin Murphy, MD any time.