Managing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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by Guest Author, Roselen Fernandez

5 million Americans are known to suffer from OCD in their lifetime. It affects men and women equally. It can also manifest in about 1 in 100 children. Almost 75% of person with OCD suffers from symptoms of depression.

One simple example of OCD case is driving long way back to your house after a recurrent and nagging thought of your bedroom window being unlocked or your iron unplugged or your faucet dripping. This won’t matter if they are founded, but sometimes they can be compulsive already and you did go back and find it done, faucet closed, window locked and your appliances unplugged.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a condition that manifests in millions of people worldwide. For some it can happen by obsessive hand washing, fixation on certain things or thought, etc. These symptoms may not only be possible among adults, OCD can manifest among the young as well.

What is OCD?

OCD is a disorder of the brain and behavior. It involves obsession and compulsions. Most of the time, some of these are not harmless but it may also get in the way of important activities and daily life of a person.

Person with OCD has this thought stuck in their mind over and over again. No matter what they did, it won’t go away and it feels like covering them and hindering them to function well unless they do something about it. These are often accompanied by anxiety and fear. This can be because the warning system of your brain is not working properly thus it tells that you’re in danger although you are not.

People with OCD have different brain structure in some areas as scientists say.

People with OCD may not realize that their obsessions are unreasonable already and their repetitive behavior is a sign of a medical condition. But some who are aware of it feel powerless to stop these thoughts. These ritualistic behaviors often are way to ease fears.

OCD Causes

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder isn’t fully understood when it comes to causes. Experts still find it hard to pinpoint the real reason why it happens. But there are theories and these include:

1. Biological causes. OCD is a result of several changes in the body. It is said to be a change of the body’s natural chemistry and brain functioning. It is also said to be genetically hereditary but specific genes still are yet to be identified. A study states that a gene called SLC1A1 causes OCD though further studies are needed to prove this.

2. Environmental cause. Environmental factors are known to be a part of OCD reasons. It can be triggers such as infections and other external factors.

Symptoms of OCD

OCD is often repetitive, unwanted and obsessive. It can distress those who are suffering it. Here are some obsessive signs that you may be having it.

1. Fear of dirt contamination.

2. Fear of being contaminated by touching objects or shaking hands with somebody.

3. Likes things to be orderly and symmetrical.

4. Aggressive and horrific thoughts of harming oneself or others.

5. Unwanted thoughts that includes aggression, sexual subjects

6. Nagging doubt about door being unlocked or appliances not turned off

7. Stress when objects aren’t in their prior places.

Compulsive signs that may signal OCD are often repetitive. These repetitions aims to reduce anxiety related to obsessions. Therefore compulsive behaviors are often done to alleviate fears and distress from the obsession. These compulsions are often only a temporary relief. Sometimes these compulsions are not directly connected to the prevention of the feared event.

Here are some themes, signs and symptoms of compulsion.

1. Washing and cleaning. Washing hands until skin is raw.

2. Counting. Counting in certain patterns or counting the numbers of certain objects to make sure that it is in right number.

3. Checking. Checking doors to make sure they’re locked, stoves are off, and appliances are unplugged, faucet turned off, etc. And it’s done repeatedly.

4. Demanding reassurances from people around you.

5. Following a strict routine from morning until night.

6. Repeating prayers, words or praise.

7. Orderliness. Like making sure that all your pens in the desk are upside down or the canned goods in your pantry are facing the same way or making sure that all bottles you have are grouped with their same height.

These symptoms may vary in severity at times and may gradually tone down or may drastically worsen. These symptoms worsen when one is under stress. OCD is a lifelong disorder that can be disabling if it’s not treated.

Some perfectionists though don’t necessarily mean that they are obsessive compulsive. Once you suspect that you have OCD, and then you should see your doctors since treatments are always possible and available.

OCD Treatment

Psychotherapy. CBT or the cognitive behavior therapy is one technique used to treat OCD. It tries to enhance a person’s way of thinking, and behaving. It also helps patients by teaching them how to react to situations which will help them to react less fearfully and more positively to stressful situations.

Medication. Medications for OCD are also available and have long been known to help in the treatment. The commonly prescribed medications include anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants. They work right away but should be taken for long period gaps since it may have some adverse effects as well. Anti-depressants can also be a possible choice.

These medications are effective but maybe risky for some like children, teens or those in younger age. Monitoring of medication is highly advised. Some person with OCD may react positively with these treatments while some may not. Combination treatments are available and some augmentation treatments are also made available and are being innovated.

OCD Management Tips

Here are some tips to help you manage OCD. These tips though don’t guarantee that it can stop everything but it can surely manage and lessen symptoms and help you focus.

1. Stop and go. Use timer and let it go off. Go do something else after. Always plan ahead and schedule everything. Be strong enough even though it is stressful and painful to do.

2. Thought patterns. Reframe your thoughts and find alternatives to better attitude.

3. Allow for mistakes. You are not perfect. Do something different to change your thought pattern.

4. Refocus. Refocus and accept failure.

5. Time. Time is an asset. You own it. Enjoy your precious time.

Today further studies are being done to come up with the best possible solution for OCD. These new studies focused on neurobiology, genetics and treatments. It also aims to seek and discover the causes to address it further. More effective therapies are being studied to help patients as well as families to give support.

New range of interventions, medications and cognitive techniques are already on the way. Some who are in difficult cases of OCD a form of neurosurgery called Deep Brain Stimulation is already under evaluation in clinical trials.


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