A Peek At A Possible New OCD Treatment Option

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People with OCD symptoms that are not relieved by therapy and medication may, in the not too distant future, get relief from ultrasound therapy targeting specific small areas deep in the brain.

Ultrasound treatment for OCD is being studied at the Yonsei University Medical Center in Seoul, Korea by Jin Woo Chang, M.D., PhD. An initial four-patient study with a six months follow-up period has recently been published. The study’s results are promising.

Chang’s research addresses the need for a non-invasive treatment option to help those with stubborn OCD symptoms. All four of Chang’s patients experienced a gradual reduction of obsessive-compulsive thoughts and ritual behaviors, plus they enjoyed rapid and lasting improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms.

Current Treatments

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is the experience of recurring anxiety-triggering thoughts, followed by the performance of repetitive behaviors which temporarily relieve the anxiety. For those whose symptoms are resistant to current drug and psycho-behavioral therapies, the remaining treatment options have involved brain surgery.

By drilling a hole in the skull and inserting a probe, radio frequencies can be used to destroy small areas of brain tissue linked to OCD symptoms. Another procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation also involves placing probes in specific parts of the brain associated with OCD. These probes deliver a therapeutic electrical current to the OCD associated areas.

Though surgical treatment has helped some people with OCD experience symptom reduction, invasive surgery comes with risks and OCD relief is not guaranteed. So, having a non-invasive treatment option on the horizon is welcome news.

Looking Ahead

“Using focused ultrasound, we were able to reduce the symptoms for these patients and help them get some of their life back without the risks or complications of the more invasive surgical approaches that are currently available,” said Chang.

“If these initial results are confirmed in the remaining eight patients in this study as well as in a larger pivotal trial of safety and efficacy, focused ultrasound could emerge as an alternative to surgery for improving quality of life in a cost-effective manner for patients with OCD,” adds Neal F. Kassell, M.D.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: CasparGirl / flickr creative commons

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