Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a kind of illness where people have repetitive thoughts and behave in a particular set of manners. Patients of OCD happen to fall in a trap of repetitive distressing thoughts that force them to perform certain tasks repetitively. They seem to have distressing thoughts or images or fears. The tasks repetitively performed are compulsive in nature and are performed usually to avoid the thoughts. However, even as the patient thinks his tasks help him get rid of the thoughts this is not the reality. The person is forced to perform the tasks again when the cycle of thoughts return. The disorder often consumes hours of the patient’s day. Sometimes the patients are aware of the futility of their thoughts and compulsive tasks are realistic or senseless, but they fail to stop themselves.
Causes for OCD
Studies are yet to ascertain the exact cause for OCD. However, there are certain factors that are often associated with the disease.
1. Biological factors
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter or chemical that helps move electric messages within the brain – is said to be transmitted genetically. The genetic nature of this neurotransmitter that is said to be associated with OCD indicates that can be inherited. Sometimes, imbalance in serotonin causes OCD. The imbalance is apparently associated with the relation between judgment and body movements.
2. Environmental factors
Experts believe that certain environmental stress conditions accelerate OCD in people. The main environmental factors are:
- Changing living situation
- Prolonged illness
- Losing loved and closed one to death
- Problems related to work or schools
- Issues relating to relationship
Symptoms of OCD
OCD does not seem to have a set pattern of symptoms but some of the common obsessions of OCD that vary with patient to patient are:
- Fear of dirt or contamination by germs.
- Fear of causing harm to someone.
- Fear of committing mistakes
- Fear of being embarrassed or behaving unusual in society.
- Fear of evil or sinful thoughts
- Obsession for order and perfection
- Compulsion for reassurance and too much of doubt.
The most common of behavior or tasks often performed repetitively are listed below:
- Washing hands, face or taking a bath
- Repulsion from physical contacts like shaking hands or touching door knobs.
- Repeated cross-checking things like door locks or gas stoves
- Constant counting either mentally or aloud while doing routine work
- Arranging things in a certain way
- Eating in a specific order
- Sticking to certain words, images or thoughts, even interfering with sleep
- Repeating certain words, prayers or phrases
- Performing the same tasks over and over again
- Collecting items with no apparent value
Diagnosis of OCD
Early diagnosis of OCD helps the patient get hold of the disease much easier. You must always look out for the common symptoms of OCD and get an early medical help for the same.
Treatment of OCD
OCD shows no tendency of withering away on its own. The ideal treatment blends medications with cognitive-behavior therapy.
1. Cognitive behavior therapy
This therapy tutors the patients to face their own fears or anxieties. They are taught to avoid performing the compulsive tasks while confronting their fears. This is known as the exposure therapy. The therapy stresses on minimizing the catastrophic thoughts that is common with OCD patients. The exaggerated thought process is treated with the therapy.
2. Medication therapy
Doctors recommend tricyclic antidepressants like anafranil. The antidepressants are combined with doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) depressants. Few common SSRI antidepressants are paxil, prozac and zoloft.
3. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
For people with severe cases of OCD, this therapy comes to rescue. People who do not respond to medication or the behavioral therapy, psychosurgery is used. ECT attaches electrodes to the patient’s head and electric shocks are delivered to the brain. The electric shocks are said to reduce the seizures that keep erupting in patients of severe OCD.
Most of OCD cases are said to be treated successfully with medication or behavioral therapy.
Prevention of OCD
Prevention of OCD is not possible as yet because there has been no particular reason that causes the disease. Early diagnosis, however, helps in better treatment of OCD.
Just look out for the symptoms mentioned here and be sure to get regular medical check-ups done. Regular medical guidance can help in reducing the time spent in the torture of the disease. OCD can only be treated, not prevented.