Under the Hood

OCD Treatment: New Therapy Shows Promise

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that there are 2.2 million adults living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in the U.S. A new study offers a new therapy that promises to help these people manage the condition’s symptoms and reduce its effects. 

Researchers from Israel found that deep transcranial magnetic stimulation appeared effective to help people reduce compulsive, unwanted thoughts and behaviors. They added the new therapy also works in people with OCD who do not respond to existing medications and treatments, such as psychotherapy.

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation mainly targets the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, the areas in the brain that are connected to OCD. The researchers tested that therapy with 99 participants confirmed with OCD.

Each participant took daily sessions for six weeks. The stimulation works by deliberately provoking specific OCD obsessions of people, Medical News Today reported Tuesday.

"The idea is to deliver the treatment when the brain circuitry is aroused and not while the [participant] is thinking about the shopping he needs to do after the session will be over," Lior Carmi, lead researcher from Tel Aviv University in Israel, said. 

The findings, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, showed that deep transcranial magnetic stimulation is effective to improve OCD symptoms. The participants reduced their OCD symptoms by an average of more than 30 percent after the study.

Researchers continued to monitor the participants who completed the sessions. One month after their last deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, those who received the therapy showed a 45.2 percent response rate.

"Researchers have tested [transcranial magnetic stimulation] for OCD in the past, but this is the first time we have stimulated this region of the brain and done so while we tailored exposures to each [participant]," Carmi said.

However, the researchers noted the new OCD therapy may have some minor side effects. During the study, nearly one-third of the participants reported headaches during sessions. Two participants dropped out of the trial due to the pain. 

The researchers will present the study at the upcoming European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

OCD The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that there are 2.2 million adults living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in the U.S Pixabay

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