- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) is a mental health disorder causing people to have disturbing thoughts and engage in repetitive behaviour.
- Deep brain stimulation(DBS) is an implant in the brain which sparks electric impulses and may cure OCD.
- DBS is also associated with certain side effects such as an increase in suicidal ideations and OCD symptoms.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life. It occurs when a person gets caught in a web of obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts that trigger distressing feelings in such individuals. Conversely, compulsions are behaviours an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions.
Some common obsessions include contamination obsessions such as germophobia, sexual obsessions such as sexual perversion towards children or family members, perfectionism, identity obsessions as well as religious obsessions.
Also, common compulsions include rituals that an individual performs religiously to justify his obsessions. This includes bedtime routines, religious practices, arranging items in a particular order over and over and so on.
In general, the cycle of OCD is very vicious. One may recognise and try to stop a certain behaviour to get rid of the habit but that only causes the person to be more stressed and anxious. As a result of which the only way out becomes the very activity itself and this time in a little more vigorous manner. It’s like quicksand in which one goes on sinking.
Conventional treatment measures
Scientists have been baffled about diagnosing OCD for ages. At present the modalities for treatment range from a form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy(CBT) known as Exposure and Response Prevention(ERP) to certain medications.
A class of medicines known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SRIs are proven most effective for OCD. Taken together, ERP and medication are considered the “first-line” treatments for OCD. About 70% of people will benefit from ERP and/or medication for their OCD.
New studies on the efficiency of deep brain stimulation
A new study recently showed that when traditional treatments become unsuccessful when it comes to helping patients suffering from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD, an implant fitted in the brain discharging electrical pulses might just be effective.
This deep brain implant is like a pacemaker, it comprises a stimulator usually implanted beneath the skin in the upper chest and linked to a wire or electrode. That electrode is embedded in certain regions in the brain, which includes those involved in decision-making and balancing emotions.
The research discovered that the remedy called “deep brain stimulation” or DBS can offer substantial relief to as many as two-thirds of the said patients. On average, it can lessen OCD-triggered symptoms by almost half.
The study was conducted by Dr Sheth an associate professor of neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. According to him, OCD affects roughly three per cent of the global population.
However, the bad news is approximately 10 to 20 per cent do not respond to such deep brain stimulation treatments.
The review revealed that, after a treatment period of around two years, DBS had delivered notable improvements in symptoms in two-thirds of the patients. On average, symptoms eased by 47 per cent, according to researchers.
Remarkable depression relief was also attributed to DBS treatment. The researchers discovered it eliminated the problem in half of the patients who had concurrent depression.
However, this DBS therapy is also not without its downsides. Essentially, approximately one in every five patients encountered at least one severe DBS side effect, this includes a heightened risk for suicide attempts, seizures, new OCD symptoms, and stroke.