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Mental Health Center

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Parkinson's Treatment Reduces Obsessions

Deep-Brain Stimulation Seems to Relieve Both Conditions
WebMD Health News

Oct. 24, 2002 -- A treatment for Parkinson's disease seems to also benefit people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to two case reports from France.

The paper describing these cases appears in the Oct. 26 issue of The Lancet.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to experience unwanted thoughts and perform repeated tasks to try to get rid of those thoughts. It is linked to low levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain.

Parkinson's disease is a disorder that involves nerve cells in the brain that help direct and control movement.

In recent years, neurologists have used deep-brain stimulation -- a procedure in which electrical impulses stimulate the brain section that controls movement -- to reduce the shakiness and movement problems of Parkinson's.

One patient was a 51-year-old woman with a five-year history of Parkinson's disease and a 33-year history of OCD (repeated housecleaning, bottle arranging, fear of being found dead in a dirty house). She was given a deep-brain stimulation procedure to relieve the Parkinson's symptoms.

A 50-year-old man with a 16-year history of Parkinson's also had a 40-year history of OCD (his involved repeatedly checking locks). Though his OCD symptoms decreased in adulthood, they became worse with the onset of Parkinson's -- and his lock-checking took up to three hours a day.

Both patients had notable improvements in OCD immediately after deep-brain stimulation -- as well as two years later, when they were last seen. Their Parkinson's disability had also improved.

Though medications can help treat people with OCD, helping those with the more severe forms of the disorder has long been a challenge, says lead researcher Luc Mallet, MD, with Service de Psychiatrie, Hospital of Pity-Salpêtrière, Paris, in a news release.

The recovery seen in these two patients "raises the possibility" that high-frequency stimulation could help in treating OCD, he says. -->

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