Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: 50% Of Patients Respond Well To Brain Surgery

Mental Illness

An article in ScienceDaily says that brain surgery proved successful in half of the cases of individuals diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.
Around half of people with an extreme form of obsessive compulsive disorder responded well to a type of psychosurgery that proved to be safe and effective, according to research published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, & Psychiatry. Researchers from Canada have now recommended physicians should consider this approach in helping people with OCD who have not responded to any other type of treatment.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric disease which leads to anxiety-provoking thoughts (obsessions) causing repeated, time-consuming behaviors (compulsions) that might or might not provide temporary relief. Around 1 to 2% of the population is thought to have OCD that is severe enough to disrupt their life. Standard treatments for the disorder are antidepressant medication and/or psychotherapeutic help such as cognitive behavioural therapy, but other studies have shown that such treatment does not help relieve symptoms for between 20-30% of patients.
Psychosurgery for OCD is sometimes carried out, but is rare and few studies have examined the benefits of this surgery. Researchers from the Department of Neurological Sciences at Université Laval, Quebec, therefore, decided they would study the efficacy and possible complications of one type of such surgery—bilateral anterior capsulotomy—in patients with severe OCD who had not responded to any other treatments over a long time period.
For some, this might be considered an extreme or radical approach; but if pharmacologicals do not help or at least relive the symptoms, which can be both severe and debilitating, then individuals will look for any approach that will help them.  Such is the basis of this surgery. This does not prevent ethical questions to arise, with a history of failed and unnecessary frontal lobotomies looming, like a spectre, in the background.

Yet, things are different today; the authors of the study write: “We are aware of the many ethical and sociopolitical considerations related to psychosurgery, but we think that such surgery is appropriate under thoughtful regulation, particularly when the disorder is chronic, intractable to non-invasive treatment modalities and when surgery is the last therapeutic option.”

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You can read the rest of the article at [ScienceDaily]

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