DBS can be linked back to 1870 when two German researchers used it on dogs. Soon, they were able to replicate their study with humans. Throughout the decades, researchers slowly continued testing different devices to cause electric stimulation.2
Deep brain stimulation finally gained ground when it was first approved by the FDA to help treat Parkinson’s Disease. It has been used to treat over 40,000 people with Parkinson’s between its adoption in 2002 up to the year 2013, and it helps treat other disorders as well.3
DBS is used to treat several different conditions, including:
There are several benefits of deep brain stimulation. The surgery is adaptable depending on the symptoms that a patient is experiencing. For some people, the electrodes only need to be implanted on one side of the brain. However, medical professionals have the ability to do implant on both sides of the brain.4
Secondly, all effects of deep brain stimulation can be reversed. Doctors are able to customize a plan for each patient to ensure that the procedure and treatment are as effective as possible. Medical professionals can also modify settings to get rid of potential side effects for each individual.
In addition, the device that controls the electrodes runs 24/7. This constant access means it can help manage symptoms all the time, even when a person is sleeping. Finally, DBS works well with other therapies, so patients are not limited to one type of treatment for whatever disorder they may be struggling with.5
According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).”7
A person’s compulsions can significantly impact their life by interfering with different activities and obligations. When a person has OCD, choosing to not perform a compulsion can be extremely stressful and difficult. It can be challenging for them to disengage in their compulsive actions or obsessive thoughts.
People with OCD have two different types of symptoms: obsession symptoms and compulsion symptoms. It is common for someone to only have obsessions or compulsions. Normally, people do not realize their behaviors or thoughts are excessive or unreasonable.8 OCD symptoms vary depending on the severity of the case.
OCD obsessions are repeated and unwanted thoughts or urges. Obsessions can be intrusive and cause someone extreme anxiety or distress. Normally, obsessions will have a theme. Some of those themes could be fear of contamination, troubles with tolerating uncertainty, aggressive or horrifying thought patterns about losing control of one’s actions, and unwanted thoughts on aggressive behavior, sexual, or religious topics.8
Some symptoms are as follows:8
OCD compulsions differ from obsessions. Instead of thoughts, these are repetitive behaviors that someone feels like they have to perform. Normally, the compulsions are to reduce anxiety or prevent bad things from happening. Normally, the compulsion only brings temporary relief. Compulsions will also have themes, just like obsessions.
Some symptoms include:8
DBS is a very effective treatment for people struggling with OCD. It can decrease OCD symptoms in 60% of patients with refractory OCD.9 However, deep brain stimulation is currently a rare treatment option for people with OCD since most patients manage their obsessions and compulsions with medication or therapy. Nevertheless, the use of DBS for treating disorders is growing, especially for patients struggling to see results with conventional methods.
The length of time for DBS treatment varies per patient. At best, DBS can provide long-term relief of more than eight years for many patients. However, some clients will see less significant results, while others may not find relief from deep brain stimulation at all.9
There are many treatment options for people struggling with OCD. Normally, treatment will not result in a cure, but it can help someone gain control of their symptoms so OCD no longer impacts their daily life.
Additionally, many people with OCD will go through cognitive-behavioral therapy. Normally, this therapy starts with gradually exposing someone to an object or obsession they fear. The therapist will help the patient learn new ways to resist the urge to do their compulsive routines. This kind of therapy is difficult, but it can lead to a happier, more manageable life.
DBS is a growing treatment to help people with the most severe cases of OCD. As research continues to come out, deep brain stimulation continues to become a trusted treatment plan. If you have any questions about this type of treatment, please reach out to your primary care physician so they can assist you.