Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic and long-lasting disorder where an individual has an uncontrollable desire to repeat behaviors or thought patterns over and over again. OCD is a common mental health disorder. There is no cure for OCD but individuals can achieve a normal life if they receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. According to research, OCD is more common in women than in men and stress can increase the severity of the symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
Individuals with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can impact all facets of an individual’s life. Common obsession or compulsive symptoms include:
- Fear of germs
- Unwanted forbidden thoughts
- Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
- Having things in a perfect order
- Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
- Ordering and arranging things in a preferred way repeatedly
- Repeatedly checking on things
- Compulsive counting
- Can’t control his or her excessive thoughts or behaviors
- Spends at least 1 hour a day with excessive thoughts
- Behaviors do not provide peace or relief
Symptoms may vary, and they increase or subside over time. Many individuals try to avoid triggers to maintain their OCD and prevent episodes from getting worse or happening at all. Some engage in alcohol or drug use to calm their obsessive thoughts or actions. OCD symptoms in children are usually discovered by parents or teachers because they are able to observe their behavior on a daily basis.
Studies have determined that individuals with a family history of OCD are more likely to develop the disorder. It is even higher if the family member developed the disorder as a teen. Researchers continue to study genetic links to help improve early diagnosis.
2) Brain Function
Researchers believe that OCD symptoms are a result of brain abnormalities but have yet to determine in certain areas of the brain, but that connection is not clear. As more information is discovered, treatment for OCD will improve.
Individuals who have experienced trauma or abuse in childhood are at an increased risk for developing OCD. A doctor may do a physical exam and bloodwork to make sure that your symptoms aren’t related to another illness. Many doctors also interview their patients to determine if their OCD symptoms are in fact disrupting their life. From there a referral to a mental health professional will be made to begin proper treatment and therapy.
Treatments and Therapies
OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Sometimes people with OCD also have other mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder.
Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder. Talk therapy can be helpful in treating patients and helping them find tools to help them combat their triggers and obsessive habits. Psychotherapy may also be used in conjunction with medication to help get OCD symptoms under control. Use of medication depends on the individual and severity of the symptoms. However, psychotherapy can help many OCD sufferers avoid medication for treatment.