The FDA Says This Brain-Stimulating Device May Help People With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is often treated with psychotherapy and antidepressant medication, but TMS has been explored as an option.

About 2.3% of adults in the US have OCD at some point in their lifetime, and the condition is more common in women than men.

The most common side effect in the clinical trial was headache, which occurred in 37.5% of the treatment group and 35.3% of the sham treatment group. Other possible side effects were mild, and included temporary jaw or face pain, muscle spasms or twitching, and neck pain.

The device shouldn’t be used if you have any other implants or metallic devices in or near your head, such as cochlear implants, stents, aneurysm clips or coils, and vagus nerve stimulators, among others. And jewelry and hair barrettes are a problem too.

“During treatment with the device, the patient must use earplugs to reduce exposure to the loud sounds produced by the device,” according to the FDA, and anyone who has had a seizure should discuss it with their doctor before undergoing the treatment.

The marketing approval was through a program for low- to moderate-risk devices that are new, and there’s no equivalent device already available to patients.

“Transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown its potential to help patients suffering from depression and headaches,” Carlos Peña, director of the Division of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement. “With today’s marketing authorization, patients with OCD who have not responded to traditional treatments now have another option.”