Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder. To begin with, it is a frequently occurring, chronic and long-lasting disorder. Moreover, it is characterized by a person trapped in cycles of uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
People suffering from OCD are plagued by symptoms of both, obsessions and compulsions. Generally, most of us have some or the other obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. But, this does not signify that we all suffer from OCD. Specifically, people suffering from OCD undergo such extreme cycles that it consumes a lot of their time and gets in the way of valuable activities.
Usually, obsessions comprise of unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings and lead to anxiety. Following are the common symptoms:
- Contamination from things such as bodily fluids, germs, environment, household chemicals, and dirt.
- Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts regarding sex, religion, and harm
- Aggressive thoughts about others or self
- Concern symmetry or perfect order
- Fear of losing things
- Need to know or remember everything
- Excessive concern about morality
- Concern with getting a physical illness or disease, such as cancer
- Superstitious beliefs
- Fear of making a mistake
Generally, compulsions comprise of people engaging themselves in behaviors in an attempt to get rid of the obsessions. Accompanying symptoms are:
- Excessive cleaning
- Excessive habits such as washing hands, bathing, tooth-brushing, or grooming
- Repeated checking
- Repeated activities in multiples
- Compulsive counting while performing chores
- Rewriting, or rereading
- Praying to prevent harm
- Constant need to arrange things
- Consuming meals in a specific order
- Being stuck on words, or thoughts
- Collecting items with no apparent value
Additionally, some individuals also suffer from motor tics or vocal tics. Motor tics include behaviors such as sudden, brief, and repetitive movements like eye blinking, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, head jerking, or shoulder jerking, while vocal tics comprise of behaviors such as throat clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.
All over the world, OCD is commonly observed to have occurred in adults, adolescents, and children. Usually, people are diagnosed by the age of 19. It occurs equally in men and women and affects people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds.
Surprisingly, the causes of the disorder are unknown.
Risk factors include:
- Genetics – Studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives who have OCD are at a higher risk of developing the disorder themselves. The risk is higher if the relative developed it as a teen.
- Brain Structure and Functioning – Imaging studies have shown a connection between symptoms and abnormalities in certain areas of the brain.
- Environment – People who have experienced physical or sexual abuse are at a higher risk of developing OCD. Other factors that cause OCD are changes in living situations, illnesses, or death of a loved one.
TREATMENTS AND THERAPIES
Several treatment methods are available for OCD. Such as medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
- Medication – Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) help in reducing the symptoms of OCD. Medications like Clomipramine, Fluoxetine, Fluvoxamine, Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft, and Sertraline few SRIs. Antipsychotic medication like Risperidone, and Abilify help in managing tic disorders along with OCD symptoms.
- Psychotherapy – Therapies like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and habit reversal training are also effective treatment options.
- Other options – Novel techniques like deep brain stimulation (DBS) can also help in treating OCD.