is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer intensely from recurrent
unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or rituals (compulsions), which they feel they
cannot control. Obsessions might include thoughts about contamination, repeated
doubts about whether one did or did not do something (like lock a door or turn
off the water,) a need to have things in a particular order, aggressive or
horrific impulses, and/or sexual imagery (e.g., a recurrent pornographic
image.) Rituals, such as hand-washing,
counting, checking or cleaning, are often performed in hope of preventing
obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these rituals, however,
provides only temporary relief, and not performing them increases anxiety. Left
untreated, obsessions and the need to perform rituals can take over a person's
life. OCD is often a chronic, relapsing illness.
symptoms cause distress, take up a lot of time (more than an hour a day), or
significantly interfere with the person's work, social life or relationships.
things put a person at higher risk of experiencing an Obsessive Compulsive
There is growing evidence that OCD
has a biological basis. OCD is no longer attributed to family problems or to
attitudes learned in childhood. Instead, the search for causes now focuses on
the interaction between biological factors and environmental influences.
are thought to be very important in OCD. If you, or your parent or sibling,
have OCD, there's close to a 25 percent chance that another of your immediate
family members will have it.
Research suggests that OCD involves
problems in communication between parts of the brain. These problems may be
caused by insufficient levels of certain brain chemicals, called
neurotransmitters. Drugs that increase the brain concentration of these chemicals
often help improve OCD symptoms.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder be treated? How?
The most common treatment for OCD is
a combination of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) and medication.
A type of behavioral therapy known
as “exposure and response prevention” (E/RP) is very useful for treating OCD.
In this approach, a person is deliberately and voluntarily exposed to whatever
triggers the obsessive thoughts (exposure) and is then taught techniques to
avoid performing the compulsive rituals (response prevention). The cognitive
portion of CBT is often added to E/RP to help challenge the irrational beliefs
associated with OCD.
does Obsessive Compulsive Disorder progress?
Compulsive Disorder usually begins in adolescence or earl adulthood, although
it may begin in childhood, with an earlier onset for males than females. Onset is gradual but acute onset has been
noted. A majority of individuals have a
chronic waxing and waning course, with exacerbation of symptoms that may be
related to stress. About 15% of OCD
patients show progressive deterioration in school, occupational, and/or social
people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder get better?
OCD is a long-term (chronic) illness with periods of
severe symptoms followed by times of improvement. However, a completely
symptom-free period is unusual. Most people improve with treatment.
Response to treatment
varies from person to person. Several studies suggest that medication and
behavior therapy are equally effective in alleviating symptoms of OCD.
Furthermore, the combination of medications and therapy has been found in many
cases to be superior to either treatment on its own.
A small percentage of
people with OCD find that neither medication nor behavioral treatment produces
any significant change. Most people who receive effective treatments find their
symptoms reduced by about 40 percent to 50 percent. That can often be enough to
change their lives, to transform them into individuals who can go back to
school, work and their families. Another percentage of people are fortunate to
have a complete remission of their symptoms when treated with effective
medication and/or behavior therapy.
· If you were in physical pain, you’d see a doctor to find out what’s wrong. Your mental health is just as important. Learn more here about how to check yourself, from getting a mental health screening to visiting a counseling center. You can use the anonymous Self Evaluator to learn if a treatable mental health problem, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, could be affecting you or a friend. Be proactive about your mental health: it’s the first step to feeling better. http://www.ulifeline.org/COD/self_evaluator
· Mental Health America. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/ocd
· National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=142546
· The following website provides a useful self-assessment Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and whether you should seek the advice of a mental health professional: http://www.nvcbt.com/self-help-quizzes/ocd-self-assessment/