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What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that is classified as a mental health disorder which is thought to have neurological underpinnings.

Research today allows us to know far more than ever before about the origins and possible causes for this condition. We now know OCD is heritable and likely linked to genes.

Researchers are also working to uncover whether the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a role. Additionally personal environmental experiences such as illness, infection or trauma may also play a heavy role. Ultimately, there is still much more research to conduct in order to learn about the underlying causes.

Who Has It?

The World Health Organization (WHO) includes this condition in its worldwide top-20 list of illness-related disabling conditions.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that one-quarter of cases occur in individuals ages 14 and younger and the most common age for diagnosis is 19.

With an estimated 2.2 million cases in the United States alone (one percent of the population), the condition is far more common than most people suspect.

If you or someone you love is living with suspected or confirmed OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you already know just how serious and life-limiting this condition can be.

There is nothing humorous about it. And you can't just "snap out of it" no matter what mainstream media or pop culture might suggest.

Symptoms can feel all-consuming - like being caught in the tractor beam of a ceaseless and urgent inner force.

In this article, learn more about what causes the condition, how prevalent it is, major symptoms, who and what can help and news about effective emerging treatments.

What Are the Symptoms?

For diagnostic purposes, treatment providers universally refer to the "bible" of mental health disorders, the Diagnostic Standards Manual. The current version is DMS-V.

The DSM-V specifies that three criteria must be present for diagnosis of this condition.

The first diagnostic criteria is the presence of unwanted obsessions or compulsions.

The second diagnostic criteria is the sufferer's confirmed inability to control those obsessions or compulsions.

The third diagnostic criteria is that management of the obsessions or compulsions requires significant daily time - on average, at least 60 minutes each day - and interferes with the time needed to tend to regular activities and relationships.

From here, the specific unwanted obsessions and compulsions can include a wide range of fears, phobias and matched behaviors to manage those fears or phobias. No two cases of OCD are ever exactly alike in this regard.

For example, if you have a phobia about contamination, the behavior match might be repetitive hand-washing a certain number of times. Or if you have a fear about perfectionism, the behavior match might be repeating thoughts or activities so you do not forget.

Who Can Help?

While many sufferers initially start their journey to diagnosis with a family physician, next steps typically involve referral to a health professional trained to diagnose mental health disorders.

Your family physician may do a full physical examination and run blood work and other tests to rule out additional underlying conditions.

In most cases, you will be referred to a trained psychiatrist or trained psychologist for a definitive diagnosis. These professionals can distinguish between a range of symptoms to identify the most accurate diagnosis and begin to discuss options for treatment.

Why Try Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

One of the newest Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatments is called TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

This treatment was FDA-approved in 2008 and today, many health insurers offer insurance coverage for TMS.

The treatment itself is non-invasive, has few if any side effects, is considered far safer than traditional medications and has enjoyed a high success rate since its inception.

The latest breakthrough in TMS therapy is specifically for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder and it is called the Brainsway Method.

What Is the Brainsway Method? 

Approximately half of all sufferers fail to experience relief with traditional medication-based treatment. For these patients, options have been few and far between until only recently.

The Brainsway Method applies FDA-approved protocols to provide customized deep TMS treatment that alleviates symptoms over the long-term. The Brainsway machine is licensed and patented for exclusive use by the National Institutes of Health.

This completely non-invasive treatment uses a very similar type of magnetic technology as that used by traditional MRI machines. But with the Brainsway machine, you do not have to endure the discomfort of holding perfectly still inside a claustrophobic tube.

First, you will come down to our centrally located Costa Mesa office, right next to Santa Ana and Newport Beach. Then, you will receive your Brainsway deep TMS treatment while seated in a comfy chair wearing a lightweight, cushion-lined helmet. The helmet ensures your treatment targets the specific areas of your brain associated with your symptoms.

Your treatment will last approximately 20 minutes per session, with sessions spaced out over a six-week period. You won't need to make any special preparations before each session and you can go right back to your regular life after each session.

Treatments are painless and the most commonly reported temporary side effects are headache or slight discomfort at the application site.

What Else Can Help?

For many sufferers, the hardest challenge is remaining patient during the treatment phase while waiting for symptoms to ease.

Finding support is an essential part of the treatment process - both for the patient and for loved ones. Support groups, one-on-one talk therapy, family and group therapy can help you continue feeling connected and encouraged during the treatment process.

Keeping a daily symptom journal with surrounding details is another excellent discipline to track your progress during treatment. By staying focused and persistent and continuing to try new things, you give yourself the best chance of experiencing symptoms remission.

These steps, in conjunction with the BrainSway TMS method can help drastically improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. If you have OCD, and are interested in learning more about TMS, call and schedule a consultation today at our Costa Mesa office right off the 55 south.