TMS and OCD evidence

Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Find out how transcranial magnetic stimulation can help to reduce the symptoms and behaviours

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Understanding OCD

OCD – or obsessive compulsive disorder for short – is often misunderstood.

You might hear “I’m a bit OCD about that,” which in fact trivialises one of the most common mental health conditions in the UK. Around 1,000,000 lives are ruled by OCD and its debilitating symptoms in the UK and Ireland alone.

What’s the evidence for TMS being used to treat OCD?

  • TMS for OCD has been tried and tested for a number of years by experts in the field. Most recently, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the USA have approved the use of TMS for OCD.
  • The most recent review of TMS treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder reviewed 20 studies, including a total of 791 patients. This review shows that TMS gave clinically significant improvements in symptoms compared to placebo treatment. Studies showed that, following a full course of OCD treatment, around 55% of patients saw a significant reduction in their symptoms with 1 in 3 going into complete remission.
  • We at Smart TMS were the first clinic in the UK to offer treatment for OCD. We have seen 63% of our patients experience significant improvements in their OCD related symptoms, with around 1 in 4 going into complete remission. We have found OCD to respond particularly well to regular maintenance once a full course of treatment has been completed.

What other treatments are available for OCD?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend psychological treatment, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure response therapy (ERP), in the first instance.

If psychological treatment isn’t successful, NICE recommend medication alongside further talking therapies. These medications include antidepressants, such as Fluvoxamine, Paroxetine, Sertraline and Citalopram. A different type of antidepressant, referred to as a tricyclic antidepressant, called Clomipramine could also be considered if the original medications don’t work. Antipsychotic drugs may also be prescribed in some cases.

Although there are many treatment combinations to consider when treating OCD, around 40% of patients are treatment resistant. This means that none of the medication and therapy combinations have worked for them.

What’s the verdict?

Can TMS treat obsessive compulsive disorder?

Around 40% of patients don’t respond to various combinations of medication and psychological therapy or cannot tolerate the side effects of antidepressants. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation allows a further 55% to improve their lives without relying on the medication that may not have helped.

In our experience, we’ll know whether a patient is responding to TMS treatment for OCD within the first 10 sessions.

Once we have established that your symptoms are improving, it’s advised that you complete a further 10-20 sessions to maximise the overall outcome. Continuous Care, our aftercare programme, can be particularly useful for keeping your improvements topped up.

Is TMS Treatment Right For You?

Try our quick 2 minute questionnaire to see whether TMS treatment could help.