Obsessive compulsive dsorder, or OCD, is a condition that affects some one to three percent of the American population. Most commonly associated with intrusive thoughts, unrealistic fears, and a repetitive behavior of some type, OCD can be a debilitating condition for people in all professions and in all walks of life, detracting from everything from family and romantic relationships to daily productivity and self-expression. While the overt symptoms of the disorder are somewhat widely known, one fact about OCD in particular tends to stay hidden: at least 80% of cases begin in childhood. These early instances of OCD can have a major impact on a child’s quality of life, and the search for causes –and improved treatment– for the condition has been in full swing for quite some time.
Recently, a major development in this search occurred for a collaborative team hailing from Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the University of Toronto, and the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto, Ontario. A remarkably large and diverse set of mental health professionals, the team sought to identify possible chemical indications for OCD in children. Using a combination of brain imaging and genetic studies, the researchers were able to isolate the chemical glutamate, as they reported in the
March issue of Brain Imaging and Behavior. David Rosenberg, a lead authority in the research, explains that glutamate helps to regulate the brain’s production of and access to serotonin and other neurotransmitters, and that an excess of this chemical logically has an adverse effect on the brain’s operation. The study is likely to have a significant impact on treatment methods for OCD, incorporating new glutamate-conscious medicines, which can be helpful in combination with effective psychotherapy.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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