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CBT may increase connectivity in brains of OCD patients, finds study
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Not all thoughts express happiness. Some thoughts are intrusive and unwelcome that can result in fixation about something or recurring behavioral tendencies or a combination of both that may cause anxiety. Experts club these kinds of behavioral issues under obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a mental condition in which an individual has reoccurring thoughts as well as the urge to repeat behaviors again and again.

Behavioral scientists have been seeking effective treatment methods for OCD. Now, a group of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has suggested that OCD patients when subject to talk therapy exhibit clear-cut transformations in their brains, in addition to showing amelioration in their compulsive behavior. For their study, the researchers got OCD patients treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to enable them withstand symptoms of compulsive behavior and, thereby, reduce stress. The findings of the study titled “Mechanisms of cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder involve robust and extensive increases in brain network connectivity” were published online in the journal Translational Psychiatry in September 2017.

Examining nature of CBT effects on OCD patients

The researchers observed 43 OCD patients who had received CBT and 24 others who did not suffer from the disorder. All the respondents were required to undergo scans using a neuroimaging tool called functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI. OCD patients were subject to further examination prior to and after a month of treatment. The participants who showed no signs of OCD were also examined before and after four weeks of the study process.

Comparison of the brain scans of the respondents before and after the treatment revealed an increase in connectivity, highlighting more communication between the cerebellum and the striatum, in addition to the interconnection between the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex. While the scans of respondents sans any symptom of OCD did not reflect any changes, zero transformations were observed among OCD patients who had waited for a month before availing the treatment, underscoring the fact that brain changes do not occur automatically with the passage of time.

The researchers found that the patients had developed greater strength in the interrelationships between brain regions, which shows that they may have developed new non-compulsive behavioral traits and thought patterns. Commenting on the findings, senior author of the study Dr. Jamie Feusner said, “The changes appeared to compensate for, rather than correct, underlying brain dysfunction. The findings open the door for future research, new treatment targets and new approaches.”

The researchers opine that the results provide hope and motivation to millions of Americans afflicted with this disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), roughly 1 percent of the adult U.S. population suffers from OCD.

Road to recovery

Currently, physicians treat OCD patients by recommending them necessary medications and behavioral therapies aimed at lowering the gravity of the symptoms they manifest. The observations are significant as they lay ground for a new kind of therapeutic interventions that may not only be more efficient in nature, but can also help bring down costs associated with the treatment process.

If a person is grappling with mental disorders such as OCD or severe anxiety, he/she should immediately seek treatment at a reputed behavioral health care center. Sovereign Health at its OCD treatment centers for women in Arizona offers tailor-made treatment plans that also seek to address any underlying mental illness. For more information about our OCD treatment centers for women, or to know about our state-of-the-art rehab centers spread across the U.S., call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives.

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