Monday, November 15, 2010

Hoarding is a compulsive disorder

A study conducted in 2008 by Johns Hopkins Medical School revealed that hoarding may be more prevalent than previously thought. Researchers concluded that one in 20 people may suffer from some form of hoarding.

It’s human nature to collect and save possessions that bring back pleasant memories. Researchers say that children as young as two years of age begin to hold onto treasures of one sort or another. And some of us are more prone to collecting than others. That makes me feel a lot better about my old shoes.

Hoarding can be a disease, but it’s a matter of degree. As one wise sage remarked, “Too much of anything is worse than none at all.” So to be classified as a bone-fide hoarder, you must cross the line from merely hoarding old shoes to an unlimited, unchecked, uncontrollable desire to save vast amounts of things. For some, this means holding onto newspapers, old clothes or keeping outdated food products. And in other instances, it can be having dozens of cats or other animals in the home.

Why do people hoard? Dr. Jack Samuels, a psychologist who specializes in personality disorders at Johns Hopkins Medical School, reports that hoarders are often “overwhelmed by their possessions and unable to make decisions about how to organize or cull them.” In some instances, hoarding is triggered by the death of a loved one, causing the inability to discard clothing and other items of a deceased partner.

So when is it time to seek help? Certainly not when the only problem is simply keeping a few pairs of old shoes. But, if you can no longer get into bed due to the pile of old World War II newspapers, it’s time to either get help or seek a divorce.

But treating hoarders is more difficult than prescribing a pill for hypertension. For one thing, many hoarders deny the severity of their problem. In fact, some become angry when criticized that they’re tormenting other members of the family.

Hoarding is a compulsive disorder, but it is not the same as obsessive compulsive disease (OCD). OCD patients have a compulsion to perform repetitive rituals that they know are totally senseless, but cannot stop performing them. Drugs such as Prozac can be helpful in taming OCD rituals. But studies show that Prozac has no effect on the compulsion to hoard

The most effective way to curb this condition is by home visits of behavioural therapists who can teach hoarders how to organize their lives. But never expect that one quick visit to convince a hoarder to stop “cold turkey”. It’s impossible to quickly eliminate the feeling that, “I might need these possessions someday."

Dr.Sanjay Mongia


Compulsions are defined by:

1. Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.

2. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive

Dr.Sanjay Mongia


Obsessions are defined by:

1. Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress.

2. The thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems.

3. The person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action.

4. The person recognizes that the obsessive thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind, and are not based in reality.

5. The tendency to haggle over small details that the viewer is unable to fix or change in any way. This begins a mental pre-occupation with that which is inevitable
Dr.Sanjay Mongia

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can Strep Throat Cause Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder ?

For years, researchers have wondered about a connection between children getting strep throat and later showing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a frequently debilitating condition affecting millions of People in which those afflicted think repetitive thoughts they don’t want to or perform compulsive, ritualistic behaviors they wish they didn’t have to—like washing their hands many, many times (sometimes until they bleed) or repeatedly checking a light switch to make sure it is off (even if they have to do so for an hour).

The thinking has been that strep throat bacteria trigger the production of antibodies that end up not only targeting strep, but “mistakenly” acting on an enzyme in the brain, which is involved in making brain chemical messengers. In so doing, the antibodies to the strep throat infection pathologically alter the balance of these chemical messengers.

Now, Israeli researchers have taken the theory one step further. A team at Tel Aviv University has created a lab model of how the process works. They take rats and expose them to strep bacteria and compare them to another group of rats who are not exposed to the bacteria. The ones exposed to the bacteria do indeed develop antibodies to the strep and high levels of those antibodies are, in fact, found bound to particular receptors in their brains. What’s more, these strep-exposed mice show compulsive behaviors like repeatedly and senselessly grooming themselves. Sounds a lot like repeatedly and senselessly washing one’s hands, right?

So, it is increasingly looking as though being infected by strep (as in, getting strep throat that isn’t very promptly treated) may be one significant reason people develop OCD. This is a stunning possibility, not only because of its implication for folks with that single condition, but because other conditions mimic OCD in many of their features—including autism.

For now, I would recommend routinely testing children for strep throat. Certainly, that would mean testing them with throat cultures whenever they have sore throats. Yes, whenever. Every time. But I also advise having throat cultures done a few times during the winter months just to do it. Many children exposed to strep (and infected by it) do not complain of a sore throat.
This is one time when getting aggressive with antibiotics makes all the sense in the world. Because the possibility of saving a person from OCD is worth the trouble and will actually save lots of suffering (not to mention, lots of money), in the long run

Dr.Sanjay Mongia

OCD linked to common childhood illness

A new study at the Tel Aviv University suggests that strep throat – a common infection in children - can lead to brain dysfunction and OCD.

Prof. Daphna Joel and her team of researchers have scientifically demonstrated that strep throat can lead to problems with a child's heart, joints or brain if left untreated. And when the brain is involved, motor and mental functioning may be compromised, leading to syndromes such as attention deficit disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The team developed a new animal model to show how exposure to strep affects the brain and leads to a number of physical and mental ailments.  Comparing them to a strep-free control group, Prof. Joel measured a distinct difference in behavior in the strep-exposed animals.  The results showed that those exposed developed balance and coordination difficulties, as well as compulsive behaviors such as increased and repetitive grooming.

This breakthrough finding could lead to new modes of diagnosis of the disease and provide a new platform for drug developers seeking to treat or cure OCD.

OCD is characterized by recurrent intense obsessions and/or compulsions that may cause severe discomfort, anxiety and stress, and interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Prof. Joel stressed how important it is for parents who notice signs of strep throat to ensure that their children get treated with the appropriate antibiotics in a timely fashion.

Dr.Sanjay Mongia

Brain chemical linked to obsessive compulsive disorder found

Scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, have identified a brain chemical linked to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

In the study conducted using laboratory mice, researchers found that animals lacking the molecule, known as Slitrk5, exhibit behaviours similar to the human form of the condition including excessive self-grooming and increased anxiety.

However, these symptoms can be eased by fluoxetine, a drug commonly prescribed to treat OCD sufferers who demonstrate bizarre behaviour which can be upsetting both to them and their families, friends and colleagues.

Geneticist Professor Shahin Rafii and colleagues said in addition to identifying a new chemical involved in OCD, the mice may be useful as an animal model of the condition and in investigations for new therapies.

"Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common psychiatric disorder defined by the presence of obsessive thoughts and repetitive compulsive actions, and it often encompasses anxiety and depressive symptoms," quoted Raffii as saying.
The researchers added: "This model can be used to further dissect the role of Slitrk5 in molecular pathways underlying the pathogenesis of obsessive-compulsive behaviours."

Dr.Sanjay Mongia