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TMS Therapy for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

The stat on the image shows that 1 in 40 adults suffer from OCD and TMS Therapy for OCD can help them.


TMS Therapy for OCD shows great promise for those suffering from the condition. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide, causing distressing and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). It is estimated that 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD. While traditional treatments such as medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have shown success, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has emerged as a promising alternative for those seeking effective relief from the debilitating symptoms of OCD.

Understanding OCD

OCD is a psychiatric condition that affects approximately 2.5% of adults and 1% of children. It is characterized by recurring obsessions and compulsions that can disrupt daily functioning. Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause anxiety, while compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts performed to reduce that anxiety. Individuals with OCD often find it challenging to control these thoughts and behaviors, leading to a diminished quality of life.

Traditional Treatments for OCD

Conventional treatments for OCD include medication, primarily selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and psychotherapy, particularly CBT. While these approaches have shown efficacy for many individuals, some may experience limited relief or intolerable side effects.

TMS Therapy for OCD

While traditional treatments like medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy have proven effective, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has emerged as a promising alternative for alleviating the distressing symptoms of OCD. TMS Therapy for OCD uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific regions of the brain and has shown positive results in reducing OCD symptoms in clinical studies.

What is TMS Therapy?

TMS therapy for OCD is a non-invasive technique that targets the brain's mood regulation circuits. It involves placing a coil on the scalp, which generates magnetic pulses that penetrate the skull and stimulate specific regions associated with mood disorders like depression. These pulses induce small electrical currents, promoting neurotransmitter release and changes in neuronal activity. The repetitive nature of TMS sessions is crucial in modulating abnormal neural patterns observed in individuals with depression. By promoting neuroplasticity, TMS aims to alleviate depressive symptoms, encourage new neural connections, and rebalance mood-regulating areas of the brain. It is a promising alternative for those who don't respond well to traditional treatment methods.

How TMS Therapy for OCD Works

TMS targets specific regions of the brain associated with OCD, particularly the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) circuit. Dysfunction in this circuit is believed to contribute to the development and maintenance of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. By delivering magnetic pulses to these targeted areas, TMS modulates neural activity, aiming to restore balance and alleviate symptoms.

TMS Therapy for OCD Treatment Protocol

TMS therapy typically involves 5 sessions a week over 6 weeks. The frequency and duration of sessions vary depending on the individual's response and the severity of their OCD symptoms. During each session, the patient sits comfortably while the TMS device delivers targeted magnetic pulses to specific brain areas. At Axis Integrated Mental Health, we have also developed a unique storytelling protocol that helps patients clarify their vision for success and build the tools to help them be successful after treatment is over. This is started around the 3rd or 4th week of treatment.

While TMS shows promise as a standalone treatment for OCD, combining it with other pharmacological and psychological therapeutic modalities like Spravato or Ketamine may enhance its effectiveness. Integrating TMS with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure and response prevention (ERP) may provide a comprehensive and synergistic approach to addressing the multifaceted nature of OCD.

Does TMS Therapy Help with OCD?

Studies examining the efficacy of deep TMS therapy for OCD indicate that approximately 45% of patients experience a reduction in OCD symptoms one month after the treatment. Another study, conducted by BrainsWay, the manufacturer of an FDA-cleared OCD treatment device, suggests that the effectiveness for deep transcranial magnetic stimulation may surpass 55%. We have personally seen a higher remission rate, but that may also have to do with our other therapeutic interventions.

TMS Safety

TMS is generally well-tolerated, with minimal side effects. Common side effects include mild scalp discomfort or headache during or after the session, but these are typically transient. Compared to the potential side effects of medications, TMS stands out as a safe alternative, making it an attractive option for many individuals.

Long Term Effects and Maintenance

Research suggests that the benefits of TMS Therapy for OCD may extend beyond the treatment period. Long-term follow-up studies have demonstrated sustained improvements in OCD symptoms, highlighting the potential for lasting positive effects. However, as with any therapeutic intervention, individual responses may vary, and ongoing research aims to elucidate the factors influencing treatment outcomes.

Is TMS for OCD Covered by Insurance?

The short answer is that TMS therapy for OCD is covered by most insurance plans "yes". It is typically covered by insured plans if you meet the criteria for "treatment-resistant depression," which is usually defined as having tried and failed 2 or more antidepressants. Please consult our article about TMS Costs for a more detailed understanding of how much TMS therapy for OCD costs. It should also be noted that for kids or teenagers, insurance does not cover TMS therapy, however, we do offer TMS for this age group on a cash-pay basis.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation TMS represents a groundbreaking advancement in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Its non-invasiveness, personalized approach, and positive research findings make it a compelling option for individuals who may not have found relief with traditional treatments. As we continue to unravel the complexities of OCD and its neural underpinnings, TMS gives OCD patients new hope, offering a path towards transformation and improved quality of life for those grappling with this challenging mental health condition.

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