OCD | Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) has shown to be promising as a new treatment for OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, especially treatment resistant OCD or the very severe cases of such as hoarding, just to mention one. This treatment is similar to Vagal Nerve Stimulation in that it relies on electrical currents to stimulate parts of the brain responsible for OCD. This article caught my attention because we are using a similar therapy to treat depression called Vagus or Vagal Nerve Stimulation. I posted a video on Vagal Nerve Stimulation and depression; however, in short a surgeon inserts a device similar to a pace maker that contains wires which wrap around the Vagus Nerve and repeatedly stimulates the nerve with a rapid minor electric impulse or “shock” every five minutes for 30 seconds. This therapy was originally developed for epilepsy however it was later discovered to relieve patients who also have depression of their depressive symptoms. Deep Brain Stimulation therapy is now being studied as a treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder OCD. There are also studies being conducted using DBS to treat depression.

Deep Brain Stimulation therapy or DBS was also developed for treating another illness, Parkinson’s disease, and is now used to treat OCD. The procedure involves inserting the electrode deep in the brain to stimulate certain areas. Wires about a millimeter thick are inserted into the brain’s ventral capsule and nearby ventral striatum. Both regions contain nerve fibers carrying signals thought to be important in OCD and related neuropsychiatric illnesses. Here again is an example of "off label" uses of therapies.

50 patients were involved in the study who had severe OCD and treatment resistant OCD. These patients have had positive results for an eight year period. The study reveals that Nearly three quarters of the patients reported a twenty five percent reduction in OCD symptoms which continued for at least 8 years which shows promise for a “long term” treatment with deep brain stimulation. Patients considered for the study were the most severely affected with the disorder and had to have suffered from OCD for at least 5 years. Between the studies in genetics and now electro-brain and nerve stimulation, I believe psychiatry is on the edge of the next generation of scientific breakthroughs for treating illnesses of the brain. Would you like to read the entire article on Deep Brain Stimulation and Treatment Refractory OCD.