What is OCD and How is it Treated?
The term “OCD” is sometimes casually used to describe a person who is being overly clean or organized. However, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a very serious anxiety disorder that can consume the lives of people who have this condition.
OCD symptoms, simply put, are a combination of obsessive thoughts and habitual behaviors that often become uncontrollable without professional help. One of the most difficult things to understand about OCD is that the sufferer often knows they are being irrational, but continues to act on the obsessions regardless.
Types of OCD
There are two types of OCD, though many people exhibit both: obsessions and compulsive behaviors.
Obsessions are recurring thoughts that loop in your brain. Fixating on negative thoughts about events or other things that cannot be changed may become an obsession. These thoughts can interfere with the person’s ability to live out daily routines.
Compulsions are certain habits that are enacted time and again. Compulsions usually manifest as a physical behavior to eliminate obsessions. They usually foster terrible anxieties that add to the problems caused by OCD.
Every OCD case is unique, but there are several common traits that include:
- Irrational fear of disease, bacteria, and contamination.
- Repeating highly superstitious or religious behaviors.
- A fear of causing harm, whether it is to yourself or loved ones.
- Repeating the same action over and over again, for example, locking and relocking the door again and again.
- Recurring negative thoughts.
- Excessively checking in on others’ wellbeing.
- Lining up objects and cleaning the environment until it is “perfect”.
- The need for extreme order in one’s personal life.
- Being unable to throw anything out.
1. Exposure and response-prevention therapy is the most common method for treating OCD. It repeatedly forces patients to face their fears, to uncover the core of their obsession. For those with an irrational fear of disease, they may be asked to drink out of a public water fountain or handle something they perceive as unclean.
2. Cognitive therapy teaches patients the best ways to respond to obsessions and how to avoid compulsions. Often, doctors prescribe SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, to rebalance serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep.
The International OCD Foundation offers more information for people who suffer from the disease. OCD help comes in a variety of ways, but often requires the guiding hand of a professional.
DID YOU KNOW?: There are a surprisingly high number of celebrities that suffer from OCD. To name a few notable cases: actress Cameron Diaz, singer Justin Timberlake, soccer star David Beckham, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and radio host Howard Stern.
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Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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