What Is OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

When a person is suffering from a certain mental health condition that involves 'compulsive activities' and 'obsessive thoughts', it is often termed as an OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The obsession can be related to the unpleasant and unwanted thoughts that occur repeatedly in a person's mind. This gives rise to a feeling of unease, anxiety and disgust. When a person is bound to indulge in a repetitive behavior or an act that he has to carry out to get out of the obsession completely is often termed as compulsion. For instance, people who fear about their house being attacked by burglars might check if their windows and doors are closed correctly.

The symptoms of OCD might be mild as well as severe. While some people who are suffering from OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may be engaged in thinking compulsively throughout the day, there are others who have been subjected to this disorder for a lifetime.

Types Of OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is segregated in four main categories and numerous sub-categories depending on the type of illness. Nevertheless, a person who is seen suffering from this disorder may belong to the following four categories:

  • Hoarding
  • Contamination / Mental Contamination
  • Ruminations / Intrusive Thoughts
  • Checking.

Causes Of OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The exact cause of OCD is not yet known, various studies have categorized it as a compilation of environmental and biological factors.

The complex structure of brain consists of nerve cells known as neurons which are found in abundance. These cells help in communicating with the various organs so that they work in sync. These cells communicate via certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters that carry information from one nerve cell to the other.

Previously studies discovered that a lower level of neurotransmitter called serotonin was responsible for the development of OCD. Recent discovered studies have shown that the major cause of OCD is linked to the areas in the brain that are dealing with planning and judgement. Other areas involve speech and motion controlling nerves as well.

Risk Factors For OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may trigger or develop in a person due to the following factors:

  • Family History As A Cause For OCD: The risk of triggering OCD may be due to genetic heir. If the parents or other family members are reported with this disorder, chances are that a person may suffer from the same as well.
  • Stressful Life Events As A Cause For OCD: If you are closely related to stressful activities in day-to-day life, then the chances of suffering from this disorder are high. These events may sometimes give rise to various intrusive thoughts that can be characterized as a symptom of OCD.

Signs And Symptoms Of OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The compulsions and obsessions that are a part of OCD may vary from person to person.

Common Obsessions Include:

  • Fear of germ contamination or dirt
  • Fear of harming a person
  • Fear of committing a mistake
  • Fear of behaving in an unacceptable or awkwardly manner in public.
  • Fear of unnecessary evil thoughts
  • Necessity of being disciplined and precise in every work
  • Extreme distrust and the call for constant encouragement.

Common Compulsions Include:

  • Showering, washing hands and bathing from time to time
  • Refraining from shaking hands or touching door knobs
  • Looking out for things like gas stoves and doors as well as windows
  • Regular counting either mentally or aloud, while doing routine chores
  • Meticulous arrangement of things constantly
  • Consuming foods in a peculiar manner.
  • Being stuck with some thoughts, words and images that interfere with the sound sleep
  • Use of prayers, words or certain phrases repeatedly
  • A need to perform certain tasks for a particular number of counts
  • Hoarding or collecting unnecessarily, abstract object collection.

OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder In Children And Adolescents

It may be a challenging task to recognize the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in Children and Adolescents as they can be easily misinterpreted with meaningless worry. Additionally, few children and adolescents may often hide such symptoms from the others. Some of them might not know about expressing their feelings to others as well. Spending a long time in the bathroom, staying aloof in the bedroom or throwing tantrums might be the end result of such disorders. These results are observed by the parents or teacher, which deprives them from understanding the situations that the child is facing.

The occurrence of these symptoms may change over time, which further complicates the diagnosis of this disorder. Some children are able to resist the compulsive thoughts at school, but cannot restrict them at home. The symptoms may alter during the stressful times and may appear in various situations individually.

If the condition is not treated on time, it will lead to considerable worry and associated limitations in a child's life. Peer relationships and other factors are often the major cause of occurrence in children and should be treated with the help of clinicians.

Tests To Diagnose OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Following tests and exams may be done by the doctor to diagnose OCD in children as well as adults:

  • Physical Exam: This is done for ruling out various problems that are giving rise to the observed symptoms. This will also help in examining all the related complications that are observed in a person's behavior.
  • Lab Tests: Such tests often include screening for alcohol and drugs, a complete blood count as well as thyroid functioning.
  • Psychological Evaluation: The mental health provider may ask about the feeling or the thoughts that are clouding a person's mind which results in changing behavioral patterns. The doctor might also consult with the family and relatives with your consent.

Treatment For OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The treatment of Obsessive-compulsive disorder may not guarantee a complete cure, but it can calm down the symptoms that are observed.

Medication and psychotherapy are the two major treatments for OCD. The healing procedure which involves the use of these two methods in combination is quite effective.

Psychotherapy For OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is the most efficient treatment for OCD. In this therapy, a person is exposed to the objects that he or she fears the most. This will eventually help you in coping with the anxieties. This therapy takes sufficient effort and time, but the quality of the result is extraordinary. The therapy may take place in various sessions, including family or group and on an individual basis.

Medications For OCD Or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The compulsions and obsessions in OCD can be treated using antidepressants. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following Antidepressants for treating OCD.

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox CR)
  • Paroxetine. (Paxil, Pexeva)

Apart from these, various other psychiatric medications may be prescribed for treating OCD.

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Last Modified On: June 30, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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