How We Can Discover New Treatments for Mental Health
“I was so afraid of germs that I couldn’t change my own daughter’s diaper,” Jennifer says with tears welling in her eyes. After bringing her baby from the hospital nearly a decade ago, she felt “an injection of anxiety,” and describes, “I spent so much time washing her clothes and cleaning her bottles and disinfecting myself that I wasn’t sleeping – I was alone and desperate.” She says in a whispering voice, “I thought then I had to give her up for adoption.”
One of the biggest misconceptions about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is that it is merely a personality quirk. As a clinical psychiatrist and researcher, I see first-hand the impact OCD has on people like Jennifer. For half of newly diagnosed adults, standard recommended treatments for OCD (medications and cognitive behavior therapy) will help them achieve a meaningful reduction in their symptoms. That’s good news for those suffering. But the other half continue to have symptoms that can limit their lives.
I study new pathways having the potential to rapidly (within hours) relieve OCD symptoms. I also work to understand how we can target treatment to brain OCD circuits. Yet, while we have some important advances, we need additional research to discover novel treatments that will effectively prevent or treat OCD. Read more