Spotlight OCD News and Research Updates « Blog
Spotlight is our monthly email series that gives our readers regular updates on OCD and related disorders research and news. Enjoy reading the August edition here on our blog, and if you would like to get the September update in your inbox, please click here!

Making Headlines

A roundup of recent stories from journalists, advocates, and researchers across the web.
Binghamton University
Researchers at Binghamton University say they have found evidence that people living in areas with less sunlight may develop OCD at higher rates. Researchers at Binghamton have previously investigated the association between sleep timing and the severity of OCD symptoms, and believe that disruptions to the body’s circadian rhythm may explain their findings.
By Kavin Senapathy
When someone that you care about is suffering, providing them with loving reassurance just seems like the natural thing to do. However, if your loved one is suffering from OCD, reassuring them may actually be contributing to their symptoms. This article, along with our OCD and Families page, offer useful information and tips for family members.
By Alex R. Blog / OCD Stories
In the latest article from the OCD Stories series, a young person diagnosed with PANS and OCD shares what they wish they and their family had known from the beginning. Want to tell us your story? Click here for information on how to submit an article.

IOCDF Awards Record Amount of Funding for OCD and Related Disorders Research

We are very pleased to announce that IOCDF has selected five outstanding researchers to receive research grants in 2018! These grants total a combined $660,000 -- more funding than we have ever awarded in a single year for OCD and related disorders research. We are incredibly thankful to our donors, who through their extraordinary generosity have made this possible. A full announcement, including details about the awardees’ research projects, will be included in the fall edition of the OCD Newsletter.

Congratulations to our 2018 Research Grant Awardees:
Susanne Ahmari, MD, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
Identifying the molecular and cellular substrates of OCD using human post-mortem brain
Award: $500,000
Martha Falkenstein, PhD
McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Identifying the molecular and cellular substrates of OCD using human post-mortem brain
Award: $38,766
Berta Summers
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
A Virtual Reality Study of Cognitive Biases in Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Award: $44,856
Michael Wheaton, PhD
Barnard College
Active avoidance of threat cues and fear extinction in obsessive-compulsive disorder
Award: $50,000
Henry Willis, MA
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms in African American Young Adults: The Roles of Racial Discrimination and Racial Identity
Award: $25,826

Research Corner

A monthly roundup of the latest OCD research from scientific journals. Articles that require a journal subscription or purchase to view their full text are denoted with "($)". All linked articles provide a brief, publicly-accessible summary of research and findings.
By Timothy I. Michaels, Jennifer Purdon, Alexis Collins and Monnica T. Williams
There is renewed interest in using psychedelic medications (e.g., ketamine) to enhance treatments for a range of psychiatric disorders, including OCD. To understand whether these medications are safe and effective, researchers are conducting small-scale trials with groups of study participants—an important and necessary step before any new treatment can become widely available. A review conducted at the University of Connecticut finds that, on average, people of color have been significantly underrepresented in these trials when compared to the racial and ethnic makeup of both the general US population and study participants in other types of biomedical research. IOCDF SCB member Dr. Monnica Williams contributed to this research.
By Michael Twohig, Jonathan Abramowitz, Brooke M. Smith, Laura E. Fabricant, Ryan Jacoby, Kate L. Morrison, Ellen Bluett, Lillian Reuman, Shannon M. Blakey, and Thomas Ledermann
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a highly effective treatment for OCD, but is a difficult therapy for patients to undergo—the process provokes significant anxiety and discomfort, and as a result, some find it difficult to fully engage with or complete treatment. In this randomized controlled trial, researchers integrated acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) into ERP for people with OCD, and measured whether adding ACT improved acceptance of the treatment, patient engagement, and the rate at which patients completed the therapy. They also looked at whether ACT and ERP together were as effective as ERP by itself in reducing OCD symptoms. Past IOCDF research grant recipients Drs. Jon Abramowitz, Michael Twohig, and Ryan Jacoby contributed to this research. Dr. Abramowitz also serves on the IOCDF Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board.

Research Highlight: Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder (HD) is a complex issue that affects 2-4 percent of people around the world. Learn more about HD treatment, research, and other resources that can help.
By Jessica Grisham and Melissa Norberg
Researchers continue to seek better understanding of the root causes of hoarding, with the goal of improving treatment. With support from an IOCDF research grant, Drs. Melissa Norberg and Jessica Grisham are investigating the relationship between social rejection, the tendency to attach human characteristics to objects (anthropomorphism), and how anthropomorphism changes the nature of attachment to those objects -- all with potentially important implications for hoarding disorder treatment.
By David Mataix-Cols and Lorena Fernández de la Cruz
The addition of hoarding disorder to the DSM-5 was an important step forward, but there is a great deal of work that remains. Drs. David Mataix-Cols and Lorena Fernández de la Cruz of the Karolinska Institutet offer their perspectives on the hoarding disorder diagnosis and the state of research, treatment, and services in this article.
By Randy O. Frost, Isabella Gabrielson, Sophia Deady, Kathryn Bonner Dernbach, Greta Guevara, Maggie Peebles-Dorin, Keong Yap, and Jessica Grisham
Scrupulosity—an excessive and unrealistic concern with adherence to a moral or religious code—is a common theme for individuals with OCD. New research explores whether individuals with hoarding disorder may experience a form of scrupulosity where they feel an excessive sense of duty to avoid wasting or harming their possessions. Comprehensive Psychiatry this fall.
By Marc J. Weintraub, Caitlin A. Brown, and Kiara R. Timpano
The addition of hoarding disorder to the DSM-5 has facilitated research into the relationship between hoarding and other mental health disorders. This study, slated for publication in The Journal of Affective Disorders next month, examines the overlap between hoarding disorder and schizotypal symptoms. The authors find that among those with clinically-significant hoarding symptoms, schizotypal traits such as social anxiety, odd speech, and magical thinking are common. IOCDF SCB member Dr. Kiara Timpano contributed to this research, and co-author Caitlin Brown was recently honored with a poster award for research she presented at the 2018 Annual OCD Conference.

Find other research-related resources from the IOCDF, including:

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