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Description: If you haven’t had to deal with any symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder it’s hard to imagine what it would feel like from the perspective of someone dealing with that experience. In the article linked below you can see how at the same time psychology and neuroscience or digging deeper into the brain using brain scanning techniques to look more closely at OCD and at the same time are providing us, through their participants, with a much clearer picture of what OCD is like from the inside.

Source: Beyond the Catchphrase: The pain and in transients of obsessive-compulsive disorder motivates researchers plumbing its depths. Amy Ellis Nutt, Washington Post.

Date: March 21, 2016

Image by Dmitriy Gutarev from Pixabay

Links: Article Link —

Individuals coping with OCD sometimes describe their compulsions is like an itch simply demands to be scratched whether it involves hand washing, concern about germs or other forms of uncleanliness for the safety of loved ones they’re driven to repeated behaviour or checking over and over and over. Based on an increasing number of brain scan studies neuropsychologists are developing a clear understanding of the complexity that is OCD in the brain. Looking beyond individual neurotransmitters and thinking more in terms of the brain has a series of circuits involving many neurotransmitters lead researchers at Duke University to the eventual discovery of how certain proteins provide some of the structure for the brain’s neurons. Specifically they found that by genetically eliminating a particular protein from the circuit in the brain that seems to be implicated in OCD in mice they produced mice that seem to turn anxious and exhibited obsessive-compulsive grooming behaviour which is a common manifestation of OCD in mice (and interestingly does seem on the surface at least to relate to human hand washing in individuals with OCD). This discovery led these researchers to look for medications that modulated the level of glutamate substance involved in this modulation of neural signals. They ran a large clinical trial of a drug called minocycline which is a drug that is been used for number of years in the treatment of acne among children and adolescents. While the results of this trial are still being reviewed a number of the participants of the double-blind trial who were actually taking the active drug experienced dramatic reductions in their OCD symptoms. All further research is of course needed it suggest that this more sophisticated approach of looking at neural circuits within the brain rather than individual neurotransmitters may be quite promising.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What to the brain scan studies suggest about how OCD is reflected in brain chemistry or structures?
  2. Why might a focus on individual neurotransmitters not produce become a consistent results in our understanding of disorders like OCD when compared to the “circuits” based approach of the Duke researchers?
  3. What additional research is needed if this possible treatment for the symptoms of OCD is to be properly assessed?

References (Read Further):

Rodriguez, C. I., Bender Jr, J., Marcus, S. M., Snape, M., Rynn, M., & Simpson, H. B. (2010). Minocycline augmentation of pharmacotherapy in obsessive-compulsive disorder: an open-label trial. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 71(9), 1-478.

Abdel-Ahad, P., & Kazour, F. (2015). Non-antidepressant pharmacological treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder: a comprehensive review. Current clinical pharmacology, 10(2), 97-111.

Brakoulias, V., Eslick, G. D., & Starcevic, V. (2015). A meta-analysis of the response of pathological hoarding to pharmacotherapy. Psychiatry research, 229(1), 272-276.