We've all heard about stories of people who wash their hands a hundred times a day or who check to see if doors are locked over and over and over again. For some people, these are strange and funny stories. But for people who know about OCD, they know that it's a serious disease that isn't a laughing matter at all.
Defining Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are persistent thoughts or impulses that cause severe anxiety. A person with OCD may realize that the thoughts are irrational, but despite that he/she would still go on to suffer because of these. Examples of obsessive thought include anxious thoughts over cleanliness, safety and order.
Compulsions, on the other hand, are extensive repeated measures or rituals that a person with OCD performs to appease his obsessions. For example, a person obsessed with cleanliness would wash his hands too many times a day beyond normal. A person who constantly worries about the safety of his house would check the door locks several times before finally leaving. Other forms of compulsions are done not as a response to obsessions. An example of such is knuckle cracking.
Types of OCD
There are various kinds of OCD. Some experts classify them into four types:
3. religious, and
4. harm-related obsessions accompanied by:
- checking compulsions
- asymmetry-related obsessions that come with compulsions of repetitive arrangement of objects
- obsessions on cleanliness coupled with cleaning compulsions
- hoarding compulsions
Getting To Know the Symptoms of OCD
The main symptom of OCD is the strange behavior that revolves around the rituals mentioned above. A person suffering from OCD will have symptoms that would affect his social life, education, occupation and relationships. It would take up most of his time, as he would constantly be engaged in rituals to appease the distress coming from the obsessive thoughts.
Individuals with OCD are also likely to develop other types of health problems. Possible overlapping conditions would include trichotillomania (hair pulling), Tourette's disorder (muscle or vocal ticks), eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, panic disorder, anxiety disorder, hypochondriasis, and depression.
Causes of OCD
Many experts believe that this disorder is genetic. Simply put, it runs in the family. However, no study has yet identified a single gene for this disorder. Also, certain factors are said to trigger this anxiety problem. Unemployment, relationship difficulties, school problems, illness and childbirth are possible triggers for the onset of OCD.
Treatment for OCD
Treatment for this disorder varies widely, usually depending on the frequency and severity of the symptoms. Medications used for treating OCD are Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Anafranil (clomipramine). These increase the levels of serotonin in the brain to help avoid obsessive thoughts that lead to compulsions. Psychological therapies are also helpful. Two types used for OCD treatment are cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.