Researchers think they might just have discovered the biggest breakthrough in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that we’ve had in years.
Up until now, professionals have not been able to identify the exact cause of OCD. According to Mayo Clinic’s article, “Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Causes“, we don’t know exactly what causes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Up until now, the theories have included biology and environments that might trigger the OCD, but more research has been needed. “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Runs in Families,” by WebMD says,
“A study published in the April 2000 issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry shows that OCD occurs much more commonly among relatives of OCD sufferers than relatives of people without OCD. The researchers concluded that they have enough evidence to suggest that OCD is a familial disorder.”
But they still didn’t understand exactly what caused OCD. That, however, may be about to change.
The Ninth Chromosome
According to Medical News Today’s article, “Researchers discover genetics marker linked to OCD,” researchers from John Hopkins University School of Medicine conducted a study involving over 1,400 individuals with OCD, over 1,000 close relatives of individuals with OCD, and more individuals from the general public. Altogether, this grand research study included the genomes of 5,061 people.
And what did they find?
“…researchers found that patients with OCD had a “significant association” on chromosome 9 near a gene called protein tyrosine phosphokinase (PTPRD).”
Remember, the normal human has 46 chromosomes that make up who he is. This marker has been found on the ninth chromosome near the PTPRD protein. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the PTPRD protein (I had to look it up.) deals with “signaling molecules that regulate a variety of cellular processes including…”
- cell growth
- mitotic cycle
- oncogenic transformation.
It also said that,
“Studies of the similar genes in chicken and fly suggest the role of this PTP is in promoting neurite growth, and regulating neurons axon guidance.”
This makes sense, as we think OCD might be related to incorrect signals in the brain. If you’ve got a few minutes, this video from Medical News Today gives a brief explanation of how brain signals work.
Why do we need to know?
The Fox News article, “Researchers Identify Genetic Marker for OCD,” reports,
“‘Like most other medical and psychological conditions, we need to understand what causes conditions, so we can develop real and rational treatments for these conditions and/or prevention,’ lead study author Dr. Gerald Nestadt, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. ‘That’s why it’s important to study or identify genetic causes, if there are any.'”
According to Dr. Nestadt as reported in Hopkins Medicine,
“We might ultimately be able to identify new drugs that could help people with this often disabling disorder, one for which current medications work only 60 to 70 percent of the time.”
At the moment, behavioral therapy, antidepressants, and even brain stimulation are currently being used to treat many cases of OCD, according to Medical News Today. Sadly, we have nothing that’s a surefire way to help individuals who struggle with the disorder. Though this research doesn’t give us the specific cause of OCD, it puts us a lot closer to understanding where the problem lies. The way I interpret this is like finding out that someone lives in a certain zip code, as opposed to only knowing which city they live in.
What does this mean for us?
It’s breakthroughs like this, I think, that we can take as encouragement. I know I’ve spoken with a number of individuals who struggle with “blasphemous thoughts,” or who are parents of children who are struggling to reconcile who they are with the OCD symptoms themselves, and one of the heaviest feelings I’ve picked up is guilt. Believe me, we have enough things in life that we’re guilty of; OCD shouldn’t be one of them.
Learning again that we are not our OCD, but that our OCD has a specific location and cause should be a great encouragement. Because you are not your OCD. Your child is not his OCD. Blaming yourself for thoughts that haunt you because of a biological trigger is like blaming yourself for getting the flu. This is good news. Let’s take a second and just enjoy it.
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