New treatment could help people dealing with OCD

HOUSTON – OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, only affects about 2 percent of the population, but symptoms are usually severe. Now a study in Houston is targeting new receptors in the brain and that might mean positive news for patients suffering with the disorder. 

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a chronic, mental disorder, where thoughts you don’t want become behaviors that you can’t stop. OCD severely impacts quality of life. Just ask the expert, who is also a patient.

“I’ve lived with OCD since childhood, I was diagnosed when I was 12 and have been in treatment ever since,” said Elizabeth McIngvale, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

McIngvale, daughter of Gallery Furniture owner Mattress Mack, said she used to ask her mom if it was OK that she touched something in school.

“Then it transferred into a lot of contamination rituals, spending a lot of time in the shower. Fearing I hadn’t done something enough, I wasn’t clean enough. I was going to contaminate other people,” Elizabeth McIngvale said.

OCD is rooted in fear which feeds the anxiety and brings about the unwanted behavior. 

Psychologists used cognitive behavioral therapy in some cases, as well as traditional antidepressants aimed at serotonin and dopamine brain messengers. But researchers are now seeking something new, glutamate in the brain, a neurotransmitter that sends signals to other cells.

Eric Storch, Ph.D., McIngvale endowed chair and professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine said, “Some recent information suggests that there might be a third messenger that naturally occurs called glutamate. Thereby have improved response to anti-depressants.” 

For McIngvale who might only get several minutes a day without intrusive thoughts, it’s clearly critical to find a better way.

“I can understand someone’s pain and I can truly believe with all my belief system, that they can get better,” said McIngvale

The study of this new drug is being conducted at 59 centers across the country. Baylor College of Medicine said they are still accepting participants in the trial.

McIngvale has also started the Peace of Mind foundation, dedicated to providing help with OCD.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer; Larry Burns, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.