Twenty years ago, no one could answer the question of how to cure obsessive compulsive disorder. Research into brain imaging technology has been instrumental in a better understanding of how the brain functions both in a normal and surreal capacity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging has been instrumental in explaining many mysteries of human thought.
One of the significant disclosures of brain imaging is the advancement in the biological and anatomical aspects of OCD. Those who may gain a great deal from these studies are those who have benefited little from medications and psychotherapy. It is highly possible that certain circuits in the brain have a direct bearing on the imbalance OCD causes.
Deep Brain Stimulation
There are many questions yet to be answered about deep brain stimulation, but there are good indications that it may be beneficial to stimulate the areas of the brain that are responsible for certain imbalances. The technique involves implanting electrodes to the brain circuits for stimulation and removing them afterwards.
Deep brain stimulation is in an experimental stage for treating Parkinson’s disease, and it shows promise. Indications from brain imaging give hope that it can be effective in treatments for OCD as well.
Why Brain Stimulation is Advantageous for Treatment
Brain surgery has been attempted for OCD in the past with limited success. This was especially true before brain imaging was perfected. Deep brain stimulation offers a promising treatment, which appears better than the traditional surgery. This is true because:
* There is much less danger to the patient with deep brain stimulation and less likelihood of permanent and/or negative results to the brain.
* Although there is danger at any time surgery is involved, deep brain stimulation is only minimally invasive, decreasing the risks.
* How much stimulation the brain receives is totally adjustable so it is simple to tailor treatments to fit the individual.
Of course there are risks, so side effects or complications may occur. Bleeding or infection can be a problem, as can changes to the personality that are not anticipated or desired. This is why deep brain stimulation is only used for people who cannot get relief by any other means.
Although brain stimulation has been attempted on a limited number of people, there has not been enough study to verify or dismiss the effectiveness of the procedure. There has not been an approval for this experimental treatment, and the results on the few individuals have not been conclusive enough to determine what the success rate might be.
One study of deep brain stimulation covered eighteen patients treated for ten months. One-half received placebo treatments while the others had actual stimulation. The majority of those treated showed improvement in symptoms of OCD.
As promising as experimental procedures might be, they don’t offer a cure for obsessive compulsive disorder, but there is hope.
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