Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Electric therapy 'to treat OCD'

An electrical treatment which zaps away symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can help extreme sufferers unable to cope with everyday life, a ground-breaking study has shown.
The pacemaker-like therapy, known as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), involves passing a weak current through thin wire electrodes inserted deep into the brain.

Around 50 patients have undergone the pioneering treatment in the US, and findings of the study show that some of the worst affected had managed to keep their symptoms under control for more than eight years with on-going DBS.

OCD affects around 1% of adults at any one time. The condition causes intrusive and obsessive thoughts, compulsive urges and repetitive actions such as washing hands and locking doors.
Celebrity sufferers include soccer star David Beckham, who in 2006 spoke about how he was compelled to arrange items in straight lines and pairs, while Jack Nicholson portrayed an author with OCD in the Oscar-winning film As Good As It Gets.

The worst-affected patients spend almost every waking hour caught up in obsessive thoughts or performing senseless rituals. Many are housebound and some may be driven to thoughts of suicide.
The patients undergoing DBS were only considered for the "extreme" treatment after remaining chronically ill despite at least five years of aggressive conventional therapy.

Study leader Dr Benjamin Greenberg, a psychiatrist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said: "These techniques are promising but must be used with an abundance of caution. This is reserved for the small proportion of people who are severely disabled and have not benefited anywhere near adequately from very aggressive use of conventional treatments."
Copyright © 2011 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

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