Links for Keyword: OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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by Jennifer Viegas Dogs with obsessive compulsive disorder show nearly the same brain abnormalities of humans who have OCD, a new study finds. The discovery, published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, adds another notch to the dog-human connection and holds promise for better treatments for OCD. “While the study sample was small and further research is needed, the results further validate that dogs with CCD (Canine Compulsive Disorder) can provide insight and understanding into anxiety disorders that affect people,” Nicholas Dodman, a professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University who worked on the study, said in a press release. Dodman said that, in addition to having the same structural brain abnormalities as people with OCD, dogs also show similar behaviors, respond to the same medications and seem to have similar genetic roots to the disorder. Dogs with CCD engage in repetitious and destructive behaviors, such as flank and blanket-sucking, tail chasing and chewing. The main thing — and this is true for humans as well — is that the activity or thought is repetitive and persistent, such that it’s time consuming and interferes with normal daily routines. For dogs, Dobermans appear to be a breed that is most at risk, likely due to their genetics. © 2013 Discovery Communications, LLC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 18241 - Posted: 06.06.2013

By Ferris Jabr If you had opened the front door of Lee Shuer's apartment in the early 2000s, you would have encountered a narrow hallway made even narrower by all kinds of random stuff: unnervingly tall stacks of books and papers, cardboard boxes full of assorted knickknacks, and two hot pink salon hair dryer chairs with glass domes suspended from their arched necks. Sidling down the hallway to the right, you would have reached Shuer's bedroom. The door would have opened just wide enough for you to squeeze inside, where you would have seen mounds of stuff three to four feet high on the floor, bed and every available surface. A typical heap might have contained clothes, a violin case, a big box of Magic Markers, record albums, a trumpet, a framed picture, a package of socks, three dictionaries, two thesauruses and a pillow. Traveling a little farther down the hallway would have brought you to the common space that Shuer shared with his two roommates—a space that they had come to call "the museum room." In addition to Shuer's extensive collection of vintage Atari video games and related paraphernalia—Pac-Man board games and action figures—the room contained numerous bobble heads and kitsch from 1970s and '80s; nine milk crates stuffed with hundreds of eight-track tapes; furniture that he planned to refurbish; pile of newspapers, magazines and his artwork; and an assemblage of curious salt and pepper shakers—a mouse and slice of cheese, a dog and fire hydrant. Like many people, Shuer collected things in his youth—baseball cards, coins, cool rocks—but his childhood collections never became unusually large or disorderly. After college he bounced from place to place with few possessions. But when he settled down in an apartment in Northampton, Mass., in 2000 he began collecting much more avidly than in the past. He spent his weekends and spare time visiting Goodwill, the Salvation Army and tag sales in search of his next acquisition—the more intriguing and unusual, the better. Sometimes he would visit a thrift shop on his lunch break rather than eat. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17851 - Posted: 02.26.2013

by Andy Coghlan Deep brain stimulation helps some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but no one was quite sure why it is effective. A new study offers an explanation: the stimulation has surprisingly pervasive effects, fixing abnormal signalling between different parts of the brain. A small number of people with difficult-to-treat OCD have had electrodes permanently implanted deep within their brain. Stimulating these electrodes reduces their symptoms. To work out why stimulation has this effect, Damiaan Denys and Martijn Figee at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues recorded neural activity in people with electrodes implanted into a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This region is vital for conveying motivational and emotional information to the frontal cortex to guide decisions on what actions to take next. In some people with OCD, feedback loops between the two get jammed, leading them to do the same task repeatedly to reduce anxiety. Surplus signalling The researchers took fMRI scans as participants rested. In 13 people with OCD and implanted electrodes, there was continuous and excessive exchange of signals between the nucleus accumbens and the frontal cortex that was not seen in 11 control subjects. When the electrodes were activated, though, the neural activity of both brain regions in the people with OCD became virtually identical to that in the controls. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17842 - Posted: 02.25.2013

By Neil Swidey IMAGINE THAT ONE NIGHT you put your bright, athletic, well-adjusted 8-year-old son to bed, a kid who loves playing baseball and cracking jokes and scarfing down chocolate chip cookies. The next morning, he wakes up as someone entirely different, and in subsequent days turns into someone unrecognizable. He’s manic, spending hours doing sit-ups or running laps on the driveway — unwilling to sit down even for a minute. He alternates between tears of soul-crushing sadness and tantrums of rage directed at you and your spouse. He’s obsessed with the unhealthiness of food, refusing to eat or drink much of anything. More than anything, though, all the comforting touchstones of his life — home, school, even sleep — have suddenly been transformed into dangers. He seems trapped in a horror movie, his fear unmistakable in the way his pupils have overtaken the irises of both his eyes. As this bizarre behavior continues, you find yourself staring at your formerly normal, healthy son and you can’t help but wonder, Where did my boy go? You ask yourself: Is this what children of Alzheimer’s patients mean when they talk about looking at a loved one who’s no longer there? You take your son to your pediatrician, a sympathetic and smart woman who is nonetheless flummoxed. Because some of your son’s symptoms appear to be compulsions, she refers you to a psychologist. Actually, because the need for pediatric mental health treatment dwarfs the supply of mental health professionals, your pediatrician turns to a state referral service called MCPAP, or Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project. © 2012 NY Times Co.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17433 - Posted: 10.29.2012

By Katherine Harmon Jill, a 60-year-old woman in Milwaukee, has overcome extreme poverty. So, now that she has enough money to put food in the fridge, she fills it. She also fills her freezer, her cupboard and every other corner of her home. “I use duct tape to close the freezer door sometimes when I’ve got too many things in there,” she told A&E’s Hoarders. Film footage of her kitchen shows a cat scrambling over a rotten grapefruit; her counters—and most surfaces in her home—seemed to be covered with several inches of clutter and spoiled food. “I was horrified,” her younger sister said after visiting Jill. And the landlord threatened eviction because the living conditions became unsafe. Jill joins many others who have been outed on reality TV as a “hoarder.” We might have once called people with these tendencies “collectors” or “eccentrics.” But in recent years, psychiatrists had suggested they have a specific type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). A movement is underfoot, however, for the new edition of the psychiatric field’s diagnostic bible (the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5), to move hoarding disorder to its own class of illness. And findings from a new brain scan study, published online August 6 in Archives of General Psychiatry, support this new categorization. Hoarding disorder is categorized as “the excessive acquisition of and inability to discard objects, resulting in debilitating clutter,” wrote the researchers behind the new study, led by Yale University School of Medicine’s David Tolin. © 2012 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 17137 - Posted: 08.07.2012

Criteria for a broadened syndrome of acute onset obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) have been proposed by a National Institutes of Health scientist and her colleagues. The syndrome, Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS), includes children and teens that suddenly develop on-again/off-again OCD symptoms or abnormal eating behaviors, along with other psychiatric symptoms — without any known cause. PANS expands on Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS), which is limited to a subset of cases traceable to an autoimmune process triggered by a strep infection. A clinical trial testing an immune-based treatment for PANDAS is currently underway at NIH and Yale University (see below). "Parents will describe children with PANS as overcome by a 'ferocious' onset of obsessive thoughts, compulsive rituals and overwhelming fears," said Susan Swedo, M.D., of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), who first characterized PANDAS two decades ago. “Clinicians should consider PANS when children or adolescents present with such acute-onset of OCD or eating restrictions in the absence of a clear link to strep.” The PANS criteria grew out of a PANDAS workshop convened at NIH in July 2010, by the NIMH Pediatric and Developmental Neuroscience Branch, which Swedo heads. It brought together a broad range of researchers, clinicians and advocates. The participants considered all cases of acute-onset OCD, regardless of potential cause.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16570 - Posted: 03.24.2012

By JoNel Aleccia For Kelly Wooldridge of St. Louis, the change in her son’s behavior was so abrupt, it was like someone flipped a switch. Overnight, Brendan, now 10, went from being an easy-going, “huggy-kissy” kid to a rageful child plagued with tics, compulsions and obsessions, she said. “He would walk up and choke kids at school, or pick up a chair and throw it at them,” recalled Wooldridge, 37. Brendan developed facial tics, constant throat clearing, some humming. "He was just miserable in his own skin," his mother said. The shift first occurred when Brendan was 3, just after several recurring bouts of strep throat. The disturbing behaviors lingered, seeming to wax and wane for the next few years with no clear cause or explanation. It wasn’t until last year that Wooldridge -- like a growing number of parents, pediatricians and researchers -- finally connected the dots between the common childhood infection and the sudden onset of some forms of mental illness. “Last spring, we learned about PANDAS,” said Wooldridge. “I thought it sounded a little crazy, but it totally fit.” PANDAS -- or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections -- is the unusual diagnosis given to a group of children who abruptly develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or tic disorders such as Tourette’s Syndrome – but only after contracting infections such as scarlet fever or strep throat caused by Group A streptococcus bacteria. © 2012 msnbc.com

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16434 - Posted: 02.25.2012

By BENEDICT CAREY In recent years, many psychiatrists have come to believe that the last, best chance for some people with severe and intractable mental problems is psychosurgery, an experimental procedure in which doctors operate directly on the brain. Hundreds of people have undergone brain surgery for psychiatric problems, most in experimental trials, with some encouraging results. In 2009, the government approved one surgical technique for certain severe cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or O.C.D. For the first time since frontal lobotomy fell into disrepute in the 1950s, surgery for behavior problems seemed back on the road to the medical mainstream. But now some of the field’s most prominent scientists are saying, “Not so fast.” In a paper in the current issue of the journal Health Affairs, these experts say approving the surgery for O.C.D. was a mistake — and a potentially costly one. They argue that the surgery has not been sufficiently tested, that neither its long-term effectiveness nor its side effects are well known and that even calling it “therapy” raises people’s hopes well beyond what is scientifically supportable. “We’re not against the operation, we just want to see it tested adequately before it’s called a therapy,” said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Joseph J. Fins, chief of medical ethics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital. “With the legacy of psychosurgery, it’s important that we don’t misrepresent things as therapy when they’re not.” Doctors who run programs offering the operation strongly object. “These patients are very capable of making informed decisions based on our experience with the surgery,” said Dr. Wayne K. Goodman, chairman of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, “and I would not want to deprive them of the option, any more than I would deny someone with AIDS access to a promising therapy that has not been established yet. Their life has been so destroyed by O.C.D. that they might contemplate suicide” if the surgery were not available. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15005 - Posted: 02.15.2011

by Linda Geddes Sammy Maloney was a healthy, outgoing 12-year-old, who played in the school band, and liked nothing better than to dump his backpack after school and hang out with his friends in Kennebunkport, Maine. Then, in 2002, Sammy's personality began to change. "The first thing I noticed was that he was walking around the backyard with his eyes closed," says Sammy's mother, Beth Maloney. "I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was memorising." The next day, Sammy was again walking with his eyes closed and would only use the back door. Then he progressed to holding his breath while doing it, only wearing certain coloured clothes, and refusing to allow the windows to be opened, or the lights to be switched off. "Every single day was a new behaviour," says Beth. "We went from baseline to completely dysfunctional within a period of four to six weeks." Sammy was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, and then Tourette's syndrome. When he continued to deteriorate, a friend suggested testing Sammy for streptococcus - a common childhood bacterial infection that usually causes no more than a sore throat. "By this point he was totally emaciated and he was covered with scabs from scratching himself," says Beth. Sammy hadn't shown any signs of streptococcal infection, but it turned out he was infected. When doctors prescribed antibiotics, his symptoms began to improve. Within a few weeks he was playing board games with his brothers. "After six months of treatment, I knew that he would recover," says Beth. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 14882 - Posted: 01.18.2011

By Dana Scarton Following a protocol demonstrated moments earlier, the Colorado youth pressed his bare hands against the rim of a urinal, licked each palm, then reached out to accept a Tic Tac. Before popping the mint into his mouth, Christian added a move of his own: He dropped it onto the tile floor and stomped on it. The ad lib elicited gasps, congratulatory pats on the back, and applause from onlookers crammed into the men's room on a lower level of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. As the others took their turn at the bizarre ritual, Christian leaned on a wall outside, seeming pleased if perhaps a bit queasy. "I wanted to challenge myself," he said. Christian later told his father, Kern Low, that he would no longer struggle with paralyzing fears of contamination associated with public restrooms, a problem that had interfered with family outings for the past three years. Facing fears was the evening's objective for Christian and about 150 other people dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Led by psychologist Jonathan Grayson, they were going "Virtual Camping" -- a two-hour after-dark excursion and germfest that was part of the 2010 International OCD Foundation Conference held at the Hyatt Regency last month. "What can you do in one night?" Grayson had asked as the evening began. "You can take a step toward learning how to deal with uncertainty." Then he led the participants into the steamy streets of Crystal City, where, among other things, they would be encouraged to shake the hand of a homeless man (to fight more contamination fears), to chant "Crash and burn" to passing motorists (to show that thoughts would not cause actual harm) and to touch ripe garbage with their bare hands (contamination, again). © 1996-2010 The Washington Post Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 14320 - Posted: 08.03.2010

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have identified a previously unknown gene variant that doubles an individual’s risk for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The new functional variant, or allele, is a component of the serotonin transporter gene (SERT), site of action for the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that are today’s mainstay medications for OCD, other anxiety disorders, and depression. “Improved knowledge of SERT‘s role in OCD raises the possibility of improved screening, treatment, and medications development for that disorder,” said Ting-Kai Li, M.D., Director, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “It also provides an important clue to the neurobiologic basis of OCD and the compulsive behaviors often seen in other psychiatric diseases, including alcohol dependence.” Approximately 2 percent of U.S. adults (3.3 million people) have OCD, the fourth most prevalent mental health disorder in the United States. Individuals with OCD have intrusive, disturbing thoughts or images (obsessions) and perform rituals (compulsions) to prevent or banish those thoughts. Many other individuals demonstrate obsessive-compulsive behaviors that do not meet OCD diagnostic criteria but alter the individuals’ lives.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 8731 - Posted: 06.24.2010

by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee We could have found the apartment just by following the powerful musty odor that hit us as we stepped out of the elevator. When we got to the door, my guide knocked. No answer. She knocked again, then a third time. Finally, a small voice inside said, “Who’s there?” “It’s Susan, the social worker. We’re here with the cleaning crew. They’re here to clean out your apartment.” “Daniel’s not here,” the voice behind the door told us. “He went to get us breakfast.” “That’s OK. He doesn’t have to be here.” She opened the door a crack, and the door frame moved, almost imperceptibly. Yet it didn’t really move. The world seemed to shift, and I felt off balance for a moment. The door opened a bit wider, and then I saw them: cockroaches, thousands of them, scurrying along the top of the door to get out of the way. The door opened the rest of the way. The apartment was dark, and it took a moment to appreciate what was inside. No floor was visible, only a layer of dirty papers, food wrappers, and urine-stained rags. A rottweiler bolted out of the back to see what was going on. He jumped over a pile of dirty clothes—at least they looked like clothes. From the edge of the door, the massive pile of junk rose precipitously to the ceiling, like a giant sea wave. It could have been part of a landfill: papers, boxes, shopping carts, paper bags, dirty clothing, lamps—anything that could be easily collected from the street or fished out of a Dumpster. It was one solid wall of trash 20 feet deep, all the way to the back of the apartment. There must have been windows on the far wall, but they were darkened by the broken fans, boxes, and clothing covering them. Inside the condo the sweet, pungent odor of insects and rotting food enveloped us. Susan had instructed me to wear old clothes that I could throw out afterward. I was grateful for the advice but wished I’d also had a face mask—the heavy-duty kind.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 13920 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By MARK DERR Scientists have linked a gene to compulsive behavior — in dogs. Researchers studied Doberman pinschers that curled up into balls, sucking their flanks for hours at a time, and found that the afflicted dogs shared a gene. They describe their findings — the first such gene identified in dogs — in a short report this month in Molecular Psychiatry. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, in North Grafton, Mass., and the lead author of the report, said the findings had broad implications for compulsive disorders in people and animals. Estimates have obsessive-compulsive disorder afflicting anywhere from 2.5 percent to 8 percent of the human population. It shows up in behavior like excessive hand washing, repetitive checking of stoves, locks and lights, and damaging actions like pulling one’s hair out by the roots and self-mutilation. The disorder has been used in popular movies and television shows to define characters like the reclusive writer Melvin Udall, played by Jack Nicholson, in “As Good as It Gets” and Adrian Monk, played by Tony Shaloub, in the television series “Monk.” Similar disorders are known in dogs, particularly in certain breeds, including Dobermans. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 13688 - Posted: 06.24.2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - For years, no one on Crest Drive paid much attention to the little white house with pink trim. The front yard was overgrown with shrubs and three cars sat motionless in the driveway. Neighbors on the quiet street knew the owner, a retired psychologist named Carina DeOcampo, was an odd, private person — even her family would leave bags of food on the front steps, then quickly drive away. But folks here were shocked in early October when police forced their way into the home and discovered the 72-year-old DeOcampo dead, surrounded by six feet of garbage that packed the house. DeOcampo was a hoarder. “She had trails throughout the house, from her chair to the kitchen to her bedroom,” said neighbor David Collins, who peered in the front door after DeOcampo’s body was removed. “It was unbelievable.” This year, compulsive hoarders are in the spotlight. Books, movies and TV’s “Hoarders” — a popular A&E reality show that begins its second season Nov. 30 — have all brought the disorder out of its shame-filled past. Some hoarding experts worry that the media sensationalizes the problem while making solutions seem tidier than they really are. But they concede any attention may entice people who suffer from the disorder to obtain help. © 2009 The Associated Press.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 13522 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By JEFF BELL FOR some of us the trouble starts before we even step into a restaurant. Some might find themselves separating the salt and pepper shakers or worrying whether the cutlery is clean enough. If Carole Johnson, a retired school administrator who lives near Sacramento, Calif., happens to have a distressing thought while passing through a doorway, she needs to “clear” the thought by passing through the door twice more, doing it precisely three times. My own challenge is fighting the urge to return to my parked car and check yet again that the parking brake is secure. If I don’t, how can I be sure my car won’t roll into something — or worse, someone? Ms. Johnson and I are but two of the estimated five to seven million Americans battling obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive distressing thoughts and repetitive rituals aimed at dislodging those thoughts. We are an eclectic bunch spanning every imaginable cross-section of society, and we battle an equally eclectic mix of obsessions and compulsions. Some of us obsess about contamination, others about hurting people, and still others about symmetry. Almost all of us can find something to obsess about at a restaurant. Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 11286 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Using genetic engineering, researchers have created an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — like set of behaviors in mice and reversed them with antidepressants and genetic targeting of a key brain circuit. The study, by National Institutes of Health (NIH) — funded researchers, suggests new strategies for treating the disorder. Researchers bred mice without a specific gene, and found defects in a brain circuit previously implicated in OCD. Much like people with a form of OCD, the mice engaged in compulsive grooming, which led to bald patches with open sores on their heads. They also exhibited anxiety-like behaviors. When the missing gene was reinserted into the circuit, both the behaviors and the defects were largely prevented. The gene, SAPAP3, makes a protein that helps brain cells communicate via the glutamate chemical messenger system. “Since this is the first study to directly link OCD-like behaviors to abnormalities in the glutamate system in a specific brain circuit, it may lead to new targets for drug development,” explained Guoping Feng, Ph.D., Duke University, whose study was funded in part by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). “An imbalance in SAPAP3 gene-related circuitry could help explain OCD.”

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 10643 - Posted: 06.24.2010

by Mitch Leslie Some people just can’t help themselves. They wash their hands over and over, scrubbing their skin raw. Or they lock and relock doors, pull out their own hair, or obsessively rearrange the contents of their closet. Now, a study of mice suggests that faulty immune cells prompt such compulsive behaviors. The results raise the possibility of treating obsessive-compulsive disorder by targeting the immune system rather than the brain. Mice are fastidious, regularly cleansing their bodies from nose to tail. But animals with a defective version of the gene Hoxb8 groom themselves so much that they tear out patches of fur and develop skin sores. The behavior resembles a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder called trichotillomania, in which people tug out their own hair. The Hox family of genes is best known for helping to organize the embryo’s body, but Hoxb8 has several effects. The protein encoded by the gene functions in neural development, so mice lacking it have abnormal spinal cords and sensory ability, including pain sensitivity. This defect could in theory provoke the rodents to wash excessively, although molecular geneticist Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City and colleagues note that Hoxb8-lacking mice also obsessively groom other mice. That suggests that overcleaning is not a sensory problem but a behavioral one originating in the brain. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 14117 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Carolyn Y. Johnson Dogs have been an integral part of human life for centuries. It is precisely because of that intertwined history that dogs are a potentially powerful tool for researchers seeking the genetic roots of everything from psychiatric disorders to cancer - just two of the ailments that are similar in both humans and dogs. Last month, scientists studying Doberman pinschers with a compulsive behavior disorder similar to human obsessive-compulsive disorder found a gene associated with the condition. The genetic hit is now being followed by other researchers, who are studying the same gene in human patients with OCD, in hopes the clue from man’s best friend may help explain the disease in people. “This is exactly where we were hoping to get to,’’ said Elinor Karlsson, a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute, a genetics research center in Cambridge, and coauthor of a paper on the subject. “This is taking a disease that people have had a lot of trouble working with in humans, that seems to be a multigenic and complex psychiatric disease, and using a dog breed to look at something completely new about that disease - something we wouldn’t be able to find in any other species.’’ In dogs, compulsive behavior includes tail chasing, licking their legs until they develop infections, and pacing and circling - versions of normal behaviors such as predatory behavior, grooming, or locomotion taken to extremes. Those kinds of behaviors parallel the way that normal human behaviors, such as hand washing or checking objects, can become repetitive in the estimated 2.2 million American adults affected by OCD. © 2010 NY Times Co

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 13629 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By BENEDICT CAREY One was a middle-aged man who refused to get into the shower. The other was a teenager who was afraid to get out. Before Ross, 21, had brain surgery two years ago, his obsessive-compulsive disorder kept him from leaving the house. “It saved my life,” he said. The man, Leonard, a writer living outside Chicago, found himself completely unable to wash himself or brush his teeth. The teenager, Ross, growing up in a suburb of New York, had become so terrified of germs that he would regularly shower for seven hours. Each received a diagnosis of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, or O.C.D., and for years neither felt comfortable enough to leave the house. But leave they eventually did, traveling in desperation to a hospital in Rhode Island for an experimental brain operation in which four raisin-sized holes were burned deep in their brains. Today, two years after surgery, Ross is 21 and in college. “It saved my life,” he said. “I really believe that.” The same cannot be said for Leonard, 67, who had surgery in 1995. “There was no change at all,” he said. “I still don’t leave the house.” Both men asked that their last names not be used to protect their privacy. The great promise of neuroscience at the end of the last century was that it would revolutionize the treatment of psychiatric problems. But the first real application of advanced brain science is not novel at all. It is a precise, sophisticated version of an old and controversial approach: psychosurgery, in which doctors operate directly on the brain. Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 13507 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By RICHARD A. FRIEDMAN, M.D. When have you ever heard of a therapist telling a patient that he is mean or bad? Probably never. It’s not fashionable in our therapy-friendly nation, where people who behave obnoxiously are assumed to have a treatable psychiatric problem until proven otherwise. Nothing in the human experience is beyond the power of psychiatry to diagnose or fix, it seems. But even for me, an optimist and a proponent of therapy, things have gotten a little out of hand. Not long ago, one of my psychiatric residents called in distress about a patient who was demanding a different therapist. “This guy is in my office shouting at me and telling me how bad I am,” the resident said. Sure enough, the patient in question was very hostile and demeaning in talking about this young doctor. Jabbing his finger in the air, he told me how unsympathetic my resident was and how rude the staff at the front desk had been. “This kid doesn’t know the first thing about treating patients,” he said with derision. He clearly meant to hurt and humiliate his new doctor in front of a supervisor. Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 9926 - Posted: 06.24.2010