UBC research offers new hope for people crippled by obsessive, repugnant thoughts

February 12, 2003

Imagine being tortured by repeated thoughts of stabbing your child or having sex with your minister - thoughts that won't go away no matter how hard you try to suppress them.

In the largest study of its kind ever conducted in North America, University of British Columbia researchers will spend four years treating 120 people suffering from this disorder, previously thought to be untreatable.

A subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the illness is called OCD with primary obsessions. Characterized by persistent, unwanted and repugnant thoughts that are not acted upon, the disorder affects men and women equally and can develop in childhood. The cause is unknown but symptoms deteriorate with stress. The most common OCD primary obsessions involve sexual, violent or blasphemous content and may include repugnant thoughts about God, hurting a loved one or inappropriate sexual acts.

Sufferers account for about 20 per cent of all OCD patients. Unlike other forms of OCD, the disorder has no visible symptoms, which makes it extremely difficult to diagnose and virtually untreatable. In addition, the disorder is more resistant to medication than other forms of OCD.

"This is a common disorder that is largely unrecognized because people are ashamed to talk about it," says UBC Psychiatry Prof. Peter McLean, who is leading the study. "People are often misdiagnosed and treated for the depression and stress that often accompany the disorder."

A team of 10 OCD experts at the Anxiety Disorders Unit of UBC Hospital will compare the effectiveness of two different therapies, both of which focus on thoughts and behaviour.

"This and other forms of OCD can be crippling, yet there are no specialized treatment programs in B.C. and many patients are being sent to the U.S. for help," says co-investigator Maureen Whittal. "U.S. hospital stays that may last weeks or months can cost up to $600 US per day - Canadian taxpayers are absorbing the costs."

Approximately 1,600 hospital days are associated with severe OCD cases in B.C.

Those wishing to be involved in the study must live in the Lower Mainland and be 19 years of age or older. The treatment is free and no doctor referral is necessary. Participants will be interviewed by telephone prior to selection for the study. For further information, contact a UBC anxiety specialist at 604-822-7676.

Interviews with sufferers of OCD with primary obsessions can be arranged providing there is guarantee of anonymity. Attached is a backgrounder on OCD.
-end-


University of British Columbia

Related Stress Articles from Brightsurf:

Stress-free gel
Researchers at The University of Tokyo studied a new mechanism of gelation using colloidal particles.

Early life stress is associated with youth-onset depression for some types of stress but not others
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress (ELS) and youth-onset depression, a study in JAACAP, published by Elsevier, reports that individuals exposed to ELS were more likely to develop a major depressive disorder (MDD) in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to ELS.

Red light for stress
Researchers from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have created a biphasic luminescent material that changes color when exposed to mechanical stress.

How do our cells respond to stress?
Molecular biologists reverse-engineer a complex cellular structure that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS

How stress remodels the brain
Stress restructures the brain by halting the production of crucial ion channel proteins, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.

Stress in the powerhouse of the cell
University of Freiburg researchers discover a new principle -- how cells protect themselves from mitochondrial defects.

Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.

Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.

Read More: Stress News and Stress Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.