LIFESTYLE

Alzheimer's Memantine Pill ‘Could Treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder'

29/05/2012 12:50 | Updated 29 May 2012

People who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) could be ‘cured’ with a pill designed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, claim a team of psychiatrics.

One manifestation of the condition includes compulsive buying, or being a ‘shopaholic’, which is an addiction to the ‘highs’ of purchasing new things. Although compulsive shopping may not always be taken as seriously as other psychiatric conditions, sufferers rack up thousands of pounds of debt as a result and it can lead to more serious mental health-related issues, such as depression and obsessive hoarding.

Scroll down to discover which celebrities suffer from OCD

Scientists from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, claim the memantine pill, also known as Ebixa (normally prescribed to help treat Alzheimer’s symptoms), could also treat those with OCD, as it successfully curbed impulsive spending urges during a series of clinical trials.

Researchers enlisted the help of nine OCD patients aged 19 to 59 who were given the memantine medication for eight weeks.

Before the trial began, the volunteers admitted to spending 38 hours a week shopping and 61% of their income on impulsive buys (mostly clothes).

After the eight-week trial period, volunteers reported a decrease in their spending urges, compulsive thoughts and behavioural traits.

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“Hours spent shopping per week and money spent shopping both decreased significantly, with no side effects," a spokesperson from the study said, reports the Daily Mail.

Researchers believe that the pill reacts to the brain chemical, known as glutamate, which is closely linked to OCD behaviour.

Our findings suggest that pharmacologic manipulation of the glutamate system may target the impulsive behaviour underlying compulsive buying.”

According to OCD-UK, obsessive-compulsive disorder is considered the fourth most common mental illness in the world. In the UK alone, around 1.2% of the population suffers from OCD (12 in every 1,000); meaning around 741,504 people are living with the condition everyday.

There are four different types of OCD, which include checking, contamination, hoarding and ruminations (intrusive thoughts).

Checking
The extreme need to check is the compulsion, with the common checking routine including gas or electric stoves, water taps, door locks, windows, car doors, people (calling them constantly in fear of harm happening to them), re-reading words in a book over and over again and seeking constant reassurance.

Contamination
The need to clean and wash everything with the intense fear that something is contaminated and will cause harm or even death.
Common contamination fears include using public toilets, shaking hands, touching door knobs and handles, eating in public places, being in a crowd, avoiding red objects and stains (in fear of contracting HIV/AIDS from blood like stains) and excessive tooth brushing.

Hoarding
This is the inability to discard useless or worn out possessions as they fear that harm will occur if they throw things away. It’s also linked to extreme emotional attachment to items.

Ruminations
This is a term that often describes obsessional intrusive thoughts. These can be anything from prolonged thinking about a question that is unanswerable. The person will dwell on the time-consuming questions and feel constantly unsatisfied and appear detached.

Famous OCD Sufferers
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