Neurosurgery for mental disorder (NMD)

Explains what NMD is, what the operation is like, possible side effects and alternative surgical treatments. Also covers the law around consent to treatment by NMD.

Your stories

A journey to recovery through art

Andy Hollinghurst discusses how art has been a release for him and has helped him on his way to recovery.

Andy Hollinghurst
Posted on 02/06/2017

Talking can save lives

Nikki Mattocks
Posted on 11/05/2017

My OCD: A Monster in My Mind

Foyez blogs about his experience with OCD and being interviewed for BBC’s Horizon special on OCD.

Foyez Syed
Posted on 26/08/2015

What are the side effects?

The side effects of NMD may differ depending on the type of surgical technique being used. NMD can cause:

  • headaches, which may be severe and last for several days
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • weight gain
  • apathy (a lack of emotion, interest or concern)
  • sleeping problems

There is also some evidence that people who have had NMD experience suicidal feelings.

However, it is not known whether this is caused by the existing mental health problems or whether it is caused by the physical or emotional impact of the surgery itself.

In addition to this, all brain surgeries carry a risk of causing:

  • seizures
  • damage to the blood vessels, which may result in stroke, although this is very rare in NMD
  • pressure in the front of your brain, caused by fluid produced in the brain tissues as part of the healing process. This can make you feel confused, and can last for up to a month after the operation.

Could NMD affect my mental capacity or personality?

  • Mental capacity – there is no evidence that NMD causes any loss of thinking ability. It might actually help you to think more clearly if you experience fewer of the symptoms that had previously made it hard for you to concentrate.
  • Personality – personality changes following NMD have been reported in some people, but are considered rare.


This information was published in February 2018. We will revise it in 2021.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today