What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent thoughts, impulses, or images that are unwanted, distasteful, inappropriate, intrusive and often personally repugnant. These obsessions are coupled with repetitive, ritualized behaviors called compulsions that are intended to prevent or correct some dreaded event associated with the obsessions. Typically, those with OCD recognize that the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational – but even so, they cannot be resisted, leading to further distress. People with severe OCD experience profound impairment in social and/or occupational functioning. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a class of medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). While this may help many people, there are some who do not find adequate relief.

What is DBS?

UCLA is now offering patients with chronic, severe, treatment-resistant OCD another option in treatment. Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS, is a neurosurgical procedure where two leads are implanted in the brain, two extensions connected to the leads are implanted in the chest which are connected to neurostimulators. A neurostimulator is a sealed device similar to a cardiac pacemaker that produces the electrical pulses needed for stimulation. The pulses travel through the two extensions and leads to specific targets in the brain known to be associated with OCD. The pulses can be adjusted wirelessly to check or change the neurostimulator settings.