Taking a pill to help get rid of fear? For many people with OCD and other anxiety disorders it sounds too good to be true. Now an antibiotic once used to treat tuberculosis, could change the way doctors treat fear disorders.
It's already changed one boy's life forever.
Ask about his favorite sport, and watch Nathaniel Ray's eyes, light up. Ask about his favorite player, but ask where he gets his confidence, and he'll talk about his OCD.
Nathaniel Ray, has OCD, explains how it has changed his life, "It made me a stronger person."
While he still has tics from his tourettes and occasional OCD pop ups, they're nothing compared to five years ago. Then, his pencils had to be in perfect order, he'd walk in certain patterns, and his most challenging symptom.
Betty Ray, Nathaniel's Mother, explains his most challenging symptom, "Just out of curiosity, I started counting - and within a 30 minute time frame he had apologized more than 60 times."
Nathaniel was the first to join Doctor Eric Storch's study.
Storch has been working to see if the tuberculosis medication D-Cycloserine, can be combined with cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce OCD symptoms in kids and help them face their fears. The pill is taken one hour before therapy.
It's thought to affect receptors in the brain that are associated with how people learn to become afraid of something or not.
Eric Storch, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, University Of South Florida, explains the procedure that helps the patients, "That's one of the exciting parts of this. Is that, can we enhance the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy, with a very safe antibiotic."
While other anxiety meds are taken daily, the pill is discontinued after the program ends, after Nathaniel’s 10 week session.
Betty Ray explains how it helped, "He was a different child."
Storch, PhD, explains the changes he saw, "He wouldn't apologize in any excessive manner."
Now the football star shares his story with everyone from classmates to congressmen and for that he's unapologetic.
Early results from the study show the group of kids who received therapy plus D-Cycloserine has a 72-percent reduction in symptoms versus only 58-percent in those who only received therapy.
None of the children in the pilot study had adverse side effects from the drug.
CALMING COMPULSIONS: OCD PILL?
WHAT IS OCD? OCD, short for obsessive compulsive disorder, is a type of anxiety disorder that is a potentially disabling illness that traps people in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts and behaviors. People with OCD experience recurring and distressing thoughts, fears, or images, obsessions, which they cannot control. The anxiety produced by these thoughts leads to an urgent need to perform certain rituals or routines. The compulsive rituals are performed in attempt to prevent the obsessive thoughts or make them go away. Although the ritual may make the anxiety go away temporarily, the person must perform the ritual again when the obsessive thoughts return. This OCD cycle can progress to the point of taking up hours of the person's day and significantly interfering with normal activities. People with OCD may be aware that their obsessions and compulsions are senseless or unrealistic, but they cannot stop themselves. (www.webmd.com)
SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of OCD, which are obsessions and compulsions, may vary. A few obsessions include: fear of dirt or contamination by germs; fear of causing harm to another; fear of making a mistake; fear of being embarrassed or behaving in a socially unacceptable manner; need for order, exactness or symmetry. Compulsions may include: repeatedly bathing, showering or washing hands; refusing to shake hands or touch door knobs; repeatedly checking things such as locks or stoves; constantly rearranging things in a certain way; eating foods in a specific order; needing to repeat certain tasks a number of times. (www.webmd.com)
CAUSES: The main cause of OCD is still unknown, but there are a few theories. One of the main theories is that the cause is biological. OCD may be a result of changes in the body's natural chemical or brain functions. OCD may also have a genetic component, but specific genes have yet to be identified. The environment is another factor that could be a cause, meaning that OCD may stem from behavior-related habits learned over time. Another theory is insufficient serotonin. An insufficient level of serotonin, one of the brain's chemical messengers, may contribute to obsessive compulsive disorder. In addition, people with OCD who take medications that improve the action of serotonin often have fewer OCD systems. (www.mayoclinic.com)