The Symptoms, Causes and Treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessive, intrusive thoughts and ritualistic behaviors that significantly interfere with a person’s daily life. OCD can take many forms. Some people obsess about germs and constantly want to wash their hands or clean their homes. Others may fear harm coming to themselves or loved ones, or worry about bad luck, causing them to engage in rituals such as repeating certain words aloud a certain number of times, or touching objects a certain number of times. Having these thoughts and engaging in these rituals can cause people to feel stressed, frustrated, angry, and embarrassed. And even if they know the thoughts are irrational and that these behaviors don’t prevent bad things from happening, they still can’t control them. These are some symptoms of OCD that you should be aware of so you can get help with treatment.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder where a person has persistent thoughts and ideas that they can’t control. These obsessive thoughts may be about contamination, fear of harm coming to themselves or loved ones, or even bad luck. Some people with OCD also have repetitive behaviors that are often done in response to the obsessive thoughts. These behaviors (known as compulsions) may include excessive hand washing, cleaning, checking things repeatedly, counting items and so on.
People with OCD know these thoughts and behaviors are irrational and don’t make sense – but they feel powerless over them. These obsessions and compulsions take up a lot of time (sometimes hours each day), interfere with the person’s daily life, cause significant distress or feelings of embarrassment (leading to social isolation), and can lead to depression.
People with OCD usually know their obsessions aren’t rational or real but still experience intense worry about what might happen if they’re not followed for a specific period of time. For example:
A woman who fears her house will be burglarized may constantly check windows, doors, etc., even though she knows there’s no evidence that home burglaries follow any particular pattern -A man may wash his hands until they’re raw because he feels compelled by the need to get rid of germs
The Common Symptoms of OCD
Some of the common symptoms of OCD include obsessive thoughts, such as fear of germs or harm coming to oneself or loved ones. These thoughts can lead to compulsive behaviors, such as excessive hand washing or excessive checking. This can cause anxiety and emotional distress because the person knows it’s irrational and that these rituals don’t prevent bad things from happening.
Another symptom of OCD is intrusive thoughts, which are often violent, sexual, or blasphemous and may lead to repetitive behaviors like touching objects a certain number of times in order to reduce distress caused by the thoughts.
The Causes of OCD
The causes of OCD are not fully understood, but research shows that genetics and environmental factors can play a role.
There have been several studies looking to find the genes that may make someone more susceptible to developing obsessive compulsive disorder, but so far there hasn’t been any conclusive evidence. Researchers believe that people with OCD may have abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin. However, these neurotransmitter abnormalities are believed to be a result of OCD rather than an etiology for it.
Another possible cause of OCD is an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells communicate with one another by sending messages across synapses or gaps between nerves cells. The most relevant neurotransmitters related to OCD are serotonin and dopamine. These two chemicals are used by nerve cells in many parts of the brain and body; they contribute to mood stability and proper digestion, among other things. Many medications used as treatments for OCD work by changing the amounts of serotonin or dopamine in the brain; they improve symptoms by making it easier for nerve cells to communicate with one another again.
Understanding and Treating OCD
If you think that you or a loved one may have OCD, it is important to understand the disorder and where to go for treatment. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s likely that your OCD is affecting your daily life. However, OCD can be effectively managed with proper treatment. Treatment options include:
Medication: Antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers can help alleviate some of the symptoms of OCD.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): CBT teaches patients how to identify and change their negative thoughts and behaviors in order to reduce the intensity of their obsessions and compulsions.
Exposure Response Prevention (ERP): ERP involves gradually exposing the patient to feared objects or situations while preventing them from resorting to rituals such as handwashing or counting. The goal is to help patients face their fears without performing any rituals so they eventually learn not to fear these things anymore.
Habit Reversal Training (HRT): HRT also helps patients identify patterns in their behaviors and helps them create a new response pattern when they feel tempted by an obsession or compulsion.
The most important thing to remember when trying these treatments is that they take time and effort, but they can improve quality of life for those with OCD and make the disorder easier to live with.
OCD is a common mental health disorder that can affect anyone and the good news is that it is a condition that can be treated. With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, your symptoms of OCD can lessen or go away completely.
Many people are not able to take care of their daily lives because of the symptoms of OCD. But it is possible to live successfully with OCD, if you are willing to work with your therapist to create a treatment plan that works for you.