Deep Brain Stimulation For OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) is a severe mental health condition caused by stressful life events, biological factors, genetics, or traumatic experiences. It involves a disturbance in communication between the frontal lobe and deeper structures of the brain. These parts usually rely on serotonin, a communicator across the body’s nerve cells, to exchange messages. Hence, it is deduced that an increase in serotonin can lead to a reduction in symptoms of OCD. Yet, a discovery published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry shocked psychologists and those working on mental health. The study found that deep brain stimulation can help reduce OCD symptoms by a staggering 50%. We must understand deep brain stimulation for OCD before learning how it works.

What Exactly Is Deep Brain Stimulation(DBS)?

In DBS, electrodes and electric transmission reduce symptoms of various disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, tremors, and dystonia. Electrodes are implanted in specific brain areas after passing through two small holes opened in the skull. Imaging is used to monitor the position of the electrodes inside the head. And they are connected to the pulse generator, usually planted in the upper chest.

A mild current is passed through the electrode, and electric signals are sent to the body parts that control the movement of the limbs. This procedure is risky and might result in brain hemorrhage(bleeding), infection, or other damage to the brain or other body parts.  

Under the Humanitarian Device Exemption, DBS has been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration(FDA). Still, it is costly, and the procedures are time-consuming, including the pre-operative checkup and follow-up. This treatment can be taken when symptoms significantly interfere with the quality of life. And medication has little to no effect, often leading to even more adverse conditions through side effects.

It is recommended that the medical team of neurologists, psychiatrists, and neurosurgeons performing this operation be experienced in dealing with OCD and be experts in performing DBS.

Read more: OCD in the workplace

How Does DBS Help With OCD?

DBS can help the medical professional identify and target the area influencing or causing the symptoms of OCD. Hence, it leads to relief and reduction in the symptoms of OCD. The most common among these symptoms include:-

-fearing contamination and vulnerability to germs, leading to a compulsion for hygiene,
-checking work or tasks for incompleteness and accuracy again and again,
-ordering and rearranging things until they are just perfect,
-hoarding materials and getting prepared for a disaster that’s about to happen
-engaging in ruminations, intellectual or abstract thoughts, and much more.

Read more: “What I wish I had known….” Mental Illness Awareness Week


According to new research, deep brain stimulation(DBS) can help reduce the symptoms of OCD by nearly 50%. DBS is a procedure that involves implanting electrodes in the skull and delivering small charges to stimulate nerve cells and parts of the brain. But if you or someone you know is thinking about this procedure, it is advisable to consider therapy first. Only after a professional assessment should you decide to go for this treatment. Not sure where to find trustworthy and licensed counselors?

Don’t worry. Here’s our list of the top 5 affordable online therapy platforms to help you avail of the same.
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