What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Have you ever seen a person who keeps rearranging his/her things placed on a table or washes his/her hands multiple times after only touching some object? These are some of the common symptoms of OCD.
OCD is a serious medical illness that, unfortunately, can not be cured completely. Under this condition, people face recurring unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations. These obsessive activities are beyond their control and lead to compulsive behavior.
Compulsion includes repetitive activities such as washing hands, checking for one’s belongings or cleaning, again and again. These can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities, job, and social interactions.
We have some examples of obsessive and compulsive thoughts and actions.
Obsessions are the thoughts, images, and impulses that occur over and over. It seems like no one can help this recurrence. These thoughts are actually very disturbing and unwanted.
The feeling of obsession includes a consistent fear of some uncertain event. For instance, worrying whether the contents of your bag are not arranged in the same order or not.
Compulsions are another part of OCD. It includes repetitive behavior or thought which a person performs with the intention of neutralizing or counteracting something. Compulsive actions are the ones you may feel compelled to do. For instance, plucking your hair several times.
Types Of OCD:
We have just explained about OCD and its symptoms. But, taking a step forward, we should also know about the types of OCD. OCD is, commonly, divided into 5 categories such as-
- Checking – The major symptoms of checking OCD includes unnecessarily and frequently checking on things. It includes monitoring taps, alarms, car doors, house lights, or other appliances.
- Contamination / Mental Contamination – This type of OCD occurs when a patient feels constant and overbearing need to wash some object or his hands. In this case, people think that the object is contaminated or he/she will become ill unless the repeated cleaning takes place.
- Symmetry and order – In this type of obsessive compulsive disorder, people tend to keep everything lined up in perfect symmetrically. They have an obsessive fear of fixating things at their right place. They do so to prevent any form of discomfort.
- Ruminations / Intrusive Thoughts – Under this type of OCD, the patient may have obsessional thoughts that are monotonous, disturbing and often horrific. For example thoughts of causing violent.
- Hoarding- Another type of OCD is hoarding. The patients who suffer from this type of OCD tend to throw away their used or meaningless possessions.
These are not the only types of OCD. The symptoms of obsessions and compulsions generally fall under these categories.
Causes Of OCD
OCD can affect anybody including men, women or children of all age groups. OCD can get started from preschool to adulthood. It is estimated from the research that about 1 in 100 adults are suffering from OCD in the country.
The symptoms of OCD begins in childhood. This disorder is more common in boys than in girls. It can be caused by genetic, neurological, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors. Below is a list of factors and causes associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
In research, it is stated that the symptoms of OCD can be inherited. This disorder runs in families and is known as a familial disorder.
A few causes of OCD may be the consequences of Group A streptococcal infections. It causes inflammation and dysfunction in the basal ganglia.
The person suffering from OCD will associate things and situations with persistent fear. Usually, the person tries to avoid situations instead of facing or confronting them.
The cognitive theory focuses on how people with OCD misinterpret their thoughts. They exaggerate those thoughts, overthink and vigorously tries to ignore them.
Researchers have used imaging techniques to study the activity of the brain. This has led to the result that some parts of the brain are different in OCD patients from a healthy normal person. It is also said that the imbalances in the brain chemicals may play a major role in OCD.
We all live in a specific type of environment. Stressful and traumatic life events lead to OCD disorders. A study stated that TBI is associated with an increased risk of obsessive-compulsion.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
It is believed that OCD is a result of abnormal circuitry function of the brain. A research stated that differences in the brain and genes could also be the reason for OCD. It tends to be a genetic disorder and its symptoms start during childhood.
Compulsions are formed by the nature of Obsessions. For example – a fear of short circuit in the house is an obsession, whereas the excessive repetitive checking of the electrical appliances is a compulsion.
Some common examples of Obsessive thoughts are:
- Fear of being contaminated by coming in contact with objects others have touched.
- Having constant doubts on whether you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove and other electrical appliances or not.
- Intense stress under various situations.
- Fear of hurting yourself or others.
- An uptight need to keep every object in its respective place.
- Always being excessively aware of blinking, breathing, or other body sensations
- Avoiding situations that can trigger obsessions like shaking hands.
Some common examples of Compulsive thoughts are:
- Washing hands or bathing continuously
- Doing every task in the same order
- Repetitive checking out things
- Keep a count on things like the number of steps or bottles.
- Putting objects in the right position and a fear of losing that organization
- Unnecessary fear of performing certain activities.
Usually, people don’t share these thoughts or fears with anyone because of embarrassment. But, we should not ignore them. Consult your doctor and get proper treatment or medication to cure Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Diagnosis And Treatment of OCD
If you find any symptoms of OCD, do consult your doctor to get the proper treatment. Your physician will do your physical examination and ask for a blood test. With the help of a blood test report, the doctor makes sure that the symptoms of OCD are not caused by anything else.
Your physician will try to observe your thoughts, feelings or habits through a communication process. There is an effective process to diagnose and treat OCD.
- Physical examination – Physical examination is required to analyze the reasons for OCD symptoms. It will also help to figure out other complications.
- Lab tests- Lab tests include thyroid function and screening for alcohol and drugs.
- Psychological evaluation- Under this process, the doctor will try to evaluate the pattern of a patient’s thoughts, behavior or feelings.
With the help of these tests and evaluations, the physician will come to know the exact condition of the patient.
The available treatments for Obsessive-compulsive disorder may not be able to treat the disorder completely. But it can help to ease the symptoms. These treatments help you to live your life without the interruption of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms. There are different types of treatments such as –
Psychotherapy – This is one of the most effective treatments for OCD. Cognitive behavioral theory is psychotherapy which helps you to overcome OCD symptoms.
Psychotherapy also includes exposure and response prevention (ERP). It involves exposing you to a feared object or obsession, such as dirt. This practice will make you learn a healthy way to cope up with your symptoms.
Medication- Another way for OCD treatment is Medication. Researchers believe that certain psychiatric medications can control the symptoms of OCD. The physician will first use antidepressants, approved by the FDA to treat OCD. Before starting the medication, you must discuss the following things with your doctor-
- Choosing a medication
- Side effects
- Suicide risk
- Interactions with other substances.
- Stopping antidepressants
In some cases, medications and psychotherapy are not effective to cure OCD. Then your doctor will pick another treatment method such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). Before starting the treatment, clear all your doubts with your doctor.
Safety Precautions And Home Remedies
OCD is a chronic disorder which means that it will be part of your life. You would need to follow the medications even if you are feeling well. You should always have a plan to handle sudden changes in symptoms. Pay attention to the warning signs and contact your doctor or therapist immediately to overcome the condition.
Get a clear picture of your condition from your doctor. It will help you to understand the procedure and methods of treatment. Never hesitate to share your mental condition with the doctor or physician.
Also, read the article: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Everything You Should Know
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