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Obsessive-compulsive disorder takes the brain hostage

Obsessive-compulsive disorder takes the brain hostage

28-year-old British journalist and writer Lily Bailey has always remembered that there were two voices in her head: Lily’s inner voice and the annoying, jarring voice she calls “she”.

It is not good for the brain to share the inner voice. Like an angry sergeant at a military training camp, she is constantly giving orders.

“Count your sleeping sister’s heartbeat and breathing, or else she will die!” It was one of the most common things to do when Lily Bailey was young.

As she entered her teenage years, the unwelcome company in her head took more and more control over Lily’s thoughts.

As she said in one An interview in the British newspaper Al-Sabah Watchman 2016: “I had weird thoughts that I could give people internal bleeding by touching them or kill someone just by thinking about them.”

Lily Bailey suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD, Obsessive-compulsive disorder), which is one of the most common mental conditions.

Today, it is only possible to relieve symptoms with behavioral therapy and antidepressants, the so-called SSRIs.

Now, however, artificial intelligence and micro-shocks to the brain will attempt to remove the obsessions.

The condition is expressed in obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions, which can control the patient’s life to an extremely high degree.

The obsessions are usually related to a fear of infection or a very strong need to create order and consistency.

In many cases, compulsions include ritual ablution, ritual control, and ritual repetition.

Then the person acts on his obsession, for example by washing his hands over and over or by checking in an endless series of repetitions that the door is actually closed.

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Most mental conditions affect the sexes to varying degrees, but OCD does not discriminate.

About as many women as men suffer from OCD. In addition, the condition is evenly distributed among different social classes and often occurs equally in rich and poor countries.

The first signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder usually appear early in puberty, and for the majority of sufferers the condition is long-term and in many cases persistent.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is in the genes

According to the researchers, stress and trauma, which can lead to a sudden pandemic, are not enough on their own to induce OCD.

To have this condition, one must be predisposed to it, either genetically or as a result of abnormal changes in the brain.

in Overview article from 2021 Researchers from Denmark and Sweden, among others, suggest that the risk of suffering from OCD is 4 to 20 times higher than normal if other family members have the condition.

Brain scans also show that OCD is, in many cases, linked to changes in many of the pathways that transmit nerve signals in the brain.

This knowledge about where OCD originates in the brain has led researchers to a path of an entirely new type of treatment.

In December 2021, US researchers published the results of an experiment Five people with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder had electrodes implanted into their brains.

The electrodes were connected to a small computer that the subjects carried with them in their pockets. The computer recorded activity in different parts of the brain.

At the same time, individuals can continually describe their current obsessions or compulsions via an app in their mobile phone.

Over several months, the researchers behind the experiment collected more than 1,000 hours of data on the five people’s brain activity and symptoms.

The computer used the data collected to find patterns in the brain’s nerve signals, for example, when patients repeatedly washed their hands.

In this way, researchers have not only learned how compulsions appear physically in the brain. They were also able to use their new knowledge to prevent compulsions from occurring.

Specifically, the computer calculated the electrical impulses it would have to send back to the brain in order to neutralize the nerve signals that were behind the compulsions.

When the computer then started stimulating the brain with electrical impulses, it had a noticeable effect almost immediately.

The need to perform the inherent compulsions decreased and the patient gained a sense of joy and calm.

Treatment removes the edge of obsessive-compulsive disorder

Advanced electrode therapy is only in a trial phase and will only be offered to people with severe OCD.

Fortunately, patients with milder symptoms actually have a chance to get help, including medication and cognitive therapy.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of cure and symptoms will return in 25-40 percent of those infected. Ten percent of them get no help at all from treatments.

The best results are achieved with a type of treatment called exposure and response prevention (ERP).

The basic idea is that the therapist exposes people to stimuli that they themselves think might be harmful, and then prevents them from performing their compulsions.

For example, he could show them an iron and then not let them check if it’s working or show them a dirty sink without letting them scrub it.

In this way, they learn over time that nothing terrible happens when they ignore compulsions and irrational compulsions and that their fears are unwarranted.

Video: “I felt like a completely different kind.”

For British journalist and writer Lily Bailey, ERP therapy was a lifesaver when her brain was flooded with obsessive thoughts.

After keeping OCD a secret from the outside world, the symptoms became so obvious in her teens that she called a psychiatrist at the age of 16 and got the help she needed.

ERP therapy helped Lily Bailey not always act according to the countless commands given to her by her inner ego.

However, it still takes a lot of willpower to ignore the voice in your head.

“It’s like jumping off a cliff. It’s horrible to sit with all the thoughts without affecting them,” she said in 2017 at the BBC of what ERP therapy looks like.

“But over time, I’ve learned that it gets worse when I do that.”