‘Inflammation in the membrane. Inflammation in the brain!’* OCD


‘Brain Inflammation Discovered in Those With OCD.’

A study in Canada by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) had demonstrated for the first time, that brain inflammation is 30 per cent higher in those of us with OCD than for those without. It is even higher if you complete an extreme number of compulsions.

The reason why this brain imaging study was significant for me was because it meant that OCD was a biological condition and not just a behavioural one; something vehemently denied by many psychologists and psychiatrists. If you have OCD this is important, because for some of us SSRIs and other treatments and medication have not worked in reducing our symptoms. Maybe this is because inflammation is partly to blame? How can symptoms be controlled if the brain is not working effectively? Treating OCD with anti-inflammatory drugs, created especially for this purpose, may hold the key to tackling OCD.

“Our research showed a strong relationship between brain inflammation and OCD, particularly in the parts of the brain known to function differently in OCD,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, Head of the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety in CAMH’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute. “This finding represents one of the biggest breakthroughs in understanding the biology of OCD, and may lead to the development of new treatments.” **

Inflammation can be a positive function in the body. It tells us that our body has been damaged or is fighting off an infection; the infected areas will begin to swell as part of the natural healing process. However, surely in the brain, this is not such a good thing as it must also affect so many other cognitive functions and even cause depression, as CAMHS has proved in another imaging study. If the effects of the inflammation can be reduced, then there is hope that OCD can be minimised, because the brain will be able to concentrate on making new neural pathways rather than fighting off an infection. Thus, CBT would surely be more effective.

The study included 20 people with OCD and a comparison group of 20 people without the disorder… The researchers used a type of brain imaging called positron emission tomography (PET) that was adapted with special technology at CAMH to see inflammation in the brain. A chemical dye measured the activity of immune cells called microglia, which are active in inflammation, in six brain areas that play a role in OCD. In people with OCD, inflammation was 32 per cent higher on average in these regions. Inflammation was greater in some people with OCD as compared to others, which could reflect variability in the biology of the illness. **

The beauty of the study means that there is now a chance of simple blood-markers being made to measure the levels of inflammation, so that medication can be administered appropriately. The imaging study was also able to identify who had the highest levels of inflammation and this linked directly to those people who carried out the highest numbers of compulsions. Compulsions are what people with OCD do to relieve the anxiety that they are feeling. The PET scans showed that when people tried to stop doing their compulsions, their inflammation levels rose tangentially. Knowing this will mean that it’s possible to identify who will benefit the most from treatment with anti inflammatory medication. This inflammation may have begun after OCD started, or it may be the cause, but it’s there and must be hampering methods of treatment.

Dr Meyer concluded that:

“Medications developed to target brain inflammation in other disorders could be useful in treating OCD. Work needs to be done to uncover the specific factors that contribute to brain inflammation, but finding a way to reduce inflammation’s harmful effects and increase its helpful effects could enable us to develop a new treatment much more quickly.”

I hope that medical professionals in the U.K. take heed of this study, along that those we know and love. OCD is a complex condition that we can’t always control. However, I am now hopeful that, given the right conditions in my brain, CBT might actually work for me. I just pray the wait for targeted medication is not a long one. I can’t afford to lose any more friends.

*Title loosely based on Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane in the Brain.’

**Medical News Today, ‘OCD linked to inflammation in the brain.’ Tim Newman. 22nd June 2017.

CAMH: CAMH researchers discover brain inflammation in people with OCD http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/newsroom/news_releases_media_advisories_and_backgrounders/current_year/Pages/CAMH-researchers-discover-brain-inflammation-in-people-with-OCD.aspx#.WVJeEnByHc0.twitterin.

 

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Manchester’s OCD Heart.


Manchester is a city of firsts, a city that prides itself on its ability to support the disenfranchised. Yet for all its innovation and explosive creativity, it does not have a Centre of Excellence for OCD.

In an interview for BBC 2, Noel Gallagher pointed to his heart and said:

The thing about Manchester is…it all comes from here.’

Emmeline Pankhurst also noted that:

‘Manchester is a city which has witnessed a great many stirring episodes, especially of a political character. Generally speaking, its citizens have been liberal in their sentiments, defenders of free speech and liberty of opinion.’

We are an empathetic community and those with OCD need our help.

OCD is a condition that starts in the heart and spreads to the mind. Love is the cause of this condition. If we did not love so strongly and show such compassion, then we would not feel such great fear. This fear then mutates into complex rituals and compulsions to protect our loved ones. Our fears grow into beliefs that we may become ill and unable to protect others. We begin to believe our fears that we may accidentally hurt someone or magically think an event to catastrophe. Consequently fear eventually challenges love and we test those who care for us, maybe even irrevocably.

Yes OCD ends in the mind, but it begins in the heart. Those of us with OCD in Manchester need help to heal our hearts and our minds, but we want specialist help. After all, you wouldn’t send a person who literally had a broken heart, to see an eye surgeon.

George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier, called

Manchester….the belly and guts of the Nation.

Well the time has come for this great city to become the ‘belly, guts and (MIND) of the Nation.’

We need improved Mental Health services in the North West. In April 2015 it became possible choose our Mental Healthcare provider, when we are first diagnosed with OCD. However, what is the point of this initiative if there isn’t a specialist provider near to where we live?

I hope that hosting the OCD Action conference here helps. Maybe it will spur those in charge of our Mental Health Services to lobby commissioners. We need funds to create a Centre of Excellence for OCD in Manchester. If we can build the first computer, then surely we can tackle OCD.

For Manchester is the place where people do things…. ‘Don’t talk about what you are going to do, do it.’ That is the Manchester habit. And in the past through the manifestation of this quality the word Manchester became a synonym for energy and freedom and the right to do and to think without shackles.

From “What the Judge Saw” by Judge Parry, 1912.

 

Shelf life: OCD


Depression blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality.
Life becomes a 1920s black and white silent movie;
The woman screams,
Yet no one hears.
You are referred.

CBT becomes the link back to your Technicolor world;
Munch’s scream finds enunciation.
The words flow gently at first, then steadily;
More like a monologue than a silent O.

Only every so often, the movie reel breaks
and you jumble up your thoughts again.

Then in a more lucid moment, you remember
That your lifeline,
Gave you a book for moments just like this.

Not convinced, you read the opening chapter with trepidation and
are sucked into a world of other people’s recoveries.
It makes you cry.
Not with sadness, but relief.

You finally realise that you are not alone;
There are others just like you.
The audience claps; a standing ovation.

Words are great healers
Whether spoken or read.
But the real power comes when both are used together.

Later when
your horror movie has ended,
You drive away, calm.

But on your bookshelf are the real plots,
The wise words that will always be there for you,
When the screen bubbles, breaks and bothers you;
as it inevitably will.