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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one in a family of disorders characterized by irrational worrying and repetitive behavior. National and international 12-month prevalence of OCD diagnosis ranges between 1.2 and 1.8%. Obsessions and compulsions are two of the principal characteristics of OCD. Obsessions are unwanted or unpleasant thoughts while compulsions are repetitive mental or behavioral acts in response to obsessions (American Psychiatric Association-Fifth Edition, 2013).

A collaborative research study between institutions in China, including Peking University Institute of Mental Health, and the University of California Irvine examined the effect of alpha electroencephalogram-guided (αEEG) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) on OCD. The methods consisted of using αEEG to determine each patients’ TMS motor threshold, and allow for individualized TMS treatment. Repetitive TMS was administered daily for 2 weeks (i.e., 10 sessions total) bilaterally in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPC) to a group of 25 OCD patients. Results were that the αEEG TMS treated patients, as compared to those who were in a sham control group (i.e., unplugged coil), reported decreased OCD symptoms as measured by the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive scale. On follow-up, a one-week after the last treatment session, patients reported improvement in depressive symptomatology as well (Xiaoyan, Yueqin, Liwei, & Yi, 2014).

OCD is a debilitating disorder. Clinical studies suggest success with the use of adjunct αEEG and repetitive TMS for the individualization of treatment. The above mentioned study supports the efficacy of TMS for the treatment of OCD. Apparently, a secondary effect of OCD symptom reduction is an alleviation of depressive symptomatology. The DLPC is a common target in the treatment of mental health disorders and clinical research studies continue reporting good treatment outcomes using TMS.

By Carmen Pulido, Ph.D.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA. Author.

Xiaoyan, M., Yueqin, H., Liwei, L., & Yi, J. (2014). A randomized double-blinded sham-controlled trial of α electroencelogram-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder. Chinese Medical Journal, 127, 601-606.