I had the opportunity to listen to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation's free webinar on OCD last Tuesday (5/14). It was an excellent talk presented by Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D. It was an introductory speech about OCD and the gold standard of treatment. Once again, I was reminded of the importance of CBT/ERP in battling this affliction. Dr. Simpson also discussed the use of SSRI's in fighting OCD.
Because it was of an introductory nature, I will not repeat everything here as a lot of this information can be found on this blog, and at the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) website.
There were a few notable things however, that I wanted to share with you. First, interestingly, Dr. Simpson mentioned that even though there are 3 categories of OCD - mild, moderate, and severe - most people who have OCD are in the moderate or severe category. Meaning, that apparently, if you get OCD, it's usually pretty bad. She also mentioned that the median age of onset is 19. And lastly, OCD is twice as common as schizophrenia in the general public. Her point? That when you put all these facts together, there are a LOT of people suffering severely, starting from a young age. This is why it is so important to get solid information and good treatment to as many people as possible.
The other thing that stuck out to me about Dr. Simpson's speech, was the promising advances in the research into OCD. According to Dr. Simpson, there is still a lot of work to be done, however, progress is being made. She cited one experiment involving one of her junior faculty members (I'm sorry - I did not get her colleague's name). This young researcher was actually able to duplicate OCD symptoms in a mouse by shining a specialized light on the part of the brain that is usually involved in OCD. After performing this experiment, the mouse began excessively grooming itself, even when the light was no longer being used on the brain. When the researcher gave the mouse an SSRI, the grooming behaviors stopped. It seems as if science is getting closer and closer to unlocking the secrets of OCD.
This webinar was top notch and rivals anything that I've heard at the IOCDF's annual conference. If this represents the quality of all the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation's monthly webinars, I would highly recommend them to anyone. The best part? You can now watch the webinar for yourself as it has been uploaded to the Foundation website. If any of you get a chance to watch it, I would be really interested to hear your comments. Enjoy!
FYI: If you would like to "attend" future webinars, this can be done through your computer or through your phone. I previously thought a smart phone was required to do this, but I believe you can simply use a regular phone to attend if you choose not to use your computer. Of course, you would not be able to see any of the slide presentations without a smart phone or computer, but I think attending any future webinars this way would still have a lot of informational value.