TMS delivers localized electromagnetic pulses to the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of your brain that regulates mood. These electromagnetic pulses stimulate neurons, which release neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Depression and other mental health conditions are linked to an imbalance of these neurotransmitters. TMS works to restore that balance and can provide a more lasting impact on relieving depression symptoms than other treatments, such as antidepressants.
During a TMS treatment, the patient sits in a comfortable chair while the TMS coil is properly set in place on their head. (While this may sound intimidating, it really isn’t!) After the headpiece is in place, electromagnetic pulses are sent to the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for mood and is known to be involved in OCD.
However, undergoing TMS treatment for OCD is a slightly different process than using TMS therapy to treat clinical depression. When being treated for depression, patients have the option to watch tv, listen to music, or chat with staff or a family member. For OCD treatments though, patients do brief provocations or exposures that are meant to activate the specific fear circuitry for a particular patient. These provocations or exposures are planned with the treating clinician and personalized to each patient. With this protocol, we believe we are strengthening brain circuits responsible for dealing with obsessions and resisting the urge to engage in compulsions.
Each treatment lasts about 20-30 minutes. The full course of treatment will generally be five days a week for four to six weeks. We know that coming in five days a week for weeks on end is a commitment, but the results could impact your mental well-being for a lifetime.