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Obsessive-compulsive disorder

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According to Mayo Clinic, “obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviours (compulsions).” From the definition put forth we can deduce that OCD is a psychological problem.


Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Fear of losing things that you possess
  • Fear of contracting germs from others while shaking hands
  • Too much obsession with religion and rituals
  • Obsessed with cleanliness and hygiene
  • Compulsive cleaning and washing of hands
  • Checking if the car is locked, house is okay, burner is off repeatedly
  • Obsessed with arranging clothes, kitchen utensils, toiletries etc. in the same manner
  • Counting money again and again, maintaining too many records
  • Hoarding old things like rugged papers, newspapers, and inability to dispose off
  • Fear of physical abuse and drawing violent sexual images in mind


Causes of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

As said before, OCD is mental problem; however there is no single reason behind it. Researchers claim that certain parts of the brain are involved in inducing obsession, fear and anxiety. Studies have also elucidated that people with OCD suffer from serotonin imbalance (a neurotransmitter helping in carrying information from the brain to other cells of the body) and they also have reduced blood flow in the brain.

It could also run in the family due to genetic reason. Doctors also assume that OCD could be induced by environmental factors like stressful conditions, living in contaminated areas, complicated upbringing, etc.

Are there any complications of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Uncontrolled obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can lead to: 

  • Anxiety disorder, depression, eating disorders
  • Imbalance poor performance in work
  • Compromised personal life, social isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts, addiction to drug and alcohol


When to see a doctor?

Often individuals with OCD do not realize the fact they are suffering from it. Thus, those who are staying with them need to be more vigilant and should encourage them to see a doctor if their behaviour is interfering too much with their life and is creating troubles for others.


Diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is quite complex because the symptoms resemble anxiety issues and other types of psychological problems. Therefore, your mental health care provider will evaluate your symptoms of obsessions and compulsions, behavioural instincts, emotional statues and related aspects very carefully. Diagnosis primarily involves psychological analysis; nonetheless you might need to under physical exam, CBC test or screening for alcoholism and drug abuse.


Treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Your doctor will suggest a treatment, depending upon the severity of the disorder and its symptoms. Psychological treatment mainly involves cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is directed towards controlling the mind, behaviour and actions with the goal to get over obsessions and compulsions. Another strategy to overcome fear is the exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. 

Psychiatric medicines like antidepressants may be prescribed to manage anxiety and to control OCD.


Living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Apart from the treatment, your doctor will also teach you some strategies to manage OCD. It involves:

Family therapy is important for the purpose of understanding the disorder and to maintain harmony at home. 

  • Anticipating and understanding OCD urges and then avoiding them.
  • Shifting your attention to other better things like music, dance, meditation, hobbies, etc.
  • Writing down your obsessions and compulsions in order to get rid of them.
  • Lastly, take your medicines on time and complete the course to overcome OCD.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: May 26, 2014

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