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Brain Scans Assess Impact of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Posted Oct 03 2008 12:51pm

According to this research, researchers have uncovered evidence that individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD), as well as their family members, may experience understimulation in the part of the brain responsible for discontinuing habitual behavior. The article notes that OCD is currently diagnosed via clinical interview, and generally after the disorder is already prevalent. Research along these lines will hopefully allow for an earlier assessment of the issue, as well as some sort of intervention that would either prevents OCD, or at least reduce its severity. The article also briefly touches on the nature of OCD, and describes in more detail the nature of the clinical findings. From the article:

Dr Chamberlain, who led the study, explains, "Impaired function in brain areas controlling flexible behaviour probably predisposes people to developing the compulsive rigid symptoms that are characteristic of OCD. This study shows that these brain changes run in families and represent a candidate vulnerability factor. The current diagnosis of OCD is subjective and improved understanding of the underlying causes of OCD could lead to more accurate diagnosis and improved clinical treatments.

OCD can be a fairly debilitating mental health issue, and unfortunately one in which otherwise healthy individuals will attempt to conceal to shame or embarrassment. Treatments have been improving, both therapeutically and pharmacologically, but there is still much work to be done. Incidentally, a very good book to read if one is interested in learning more about this disorder is entitled The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing. Written for the lay person, it is a fascinating exploration of OCD, with multiple examples. In addition, it gives the reader and idea of just how difficult living with OCD can be. I haven’t read it in a while, so I don’t know if it might be a bit dated at this point (in terms of the science), but the stories should still be relevant. Definitely worth reading.

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