What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an illness that traps people in endless cycles of repetitive thought (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). Although we all have habits and routines that help us organize our daily lives, people with OCD develop patterns of behavior that take up too much time and interfere with their daily lives.
Obsessions are unwanted and intrusive ideas, images, and impulses that run through a person;s mind over and over again. A compulsion is a behavior that is performed on purpose in response to an obsession. People perform these compulsive behaviors according to ? they make up themselves to try to control the nervous feelings that come along with the obsessive thoughts. For example, a person may have a deep fear of germs and spend hours washing his or her hands after using a public toilet. Rituals like this do make the nervous feelings go away, but usually only for short while. Then fear and discomfort return, and the person repeats the routine all over again.
Most people with OCD know that their obsessions and compulsions are ridiculous and make no sense, but they cant ignore them.
What are some common obsessions?
Fear of dirt, germs or contamination.
Disgust with bodily waste or secretions.
Fear of harming a family member or friend.
Concern with order, symmetry (balance), and exactness.
What are some common compulsions?
Cleaning and grooming rituals, such as excessive hand-washing, showering, and tooth-brushing.
Checking rituals involving drawer, door locks, and appliances, to be sure they are shut, locked or turned off.
Repeating rituals like going in and out of a door, sitting down and getting up from a chair, and touching certain objects several times.
Putting items in a certain order or arrangement.
Counting over and over to a certain number.
Saving newspapers, mail or containers when they are no longer needed.
Seeking reassurance and approval.
What causes OCD?
OCD may be connected with an imbalance in a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin serves as a ? in sending nerve impulses from one nerve cell to the next, and in regulating repetitive behaviors.
How is OCD treated ?
Until recently OCD has been a difficult illness to treat. However, we now have better medicines which help many people with OCD and usually decrease symptoms to mild levels. Behavioral therapy can be used to lessen unwanted compulsion. First, people are exposed to the situations that produce obsessions and anxiety, and then they are encouraged to resist performing the rituals that usually help control the anxiety.
Over time, with practice, OCD symptoms gradually go away. The person with OCD must really want to use this method to be able to tolerate the high levels of anxiety that result.
Dr. Francis Sparadeo, PHD, APA - CPP