What is OCD disorder? OCD is the shortened name for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a distressing disorder where normal everyday routines can soon begin to take over your life and rule every waking moment. Obsessive compulsive disorder is classed as an anxiety disorder and it causes the sufferer to be plagued with ritualistic obsessions and compulsions. It can affect anyone at any time, but the symptoms normally begin to manifest around the late teens and early twenties.
What is OCD disorder what causes it?
There is some evidence to suggest that obsessive compulsive disorder can run in families and if you have a close relative with the disorder, you are more likely to be affected with OCD or another anxiety disorder at some point in your life. OCD can also be triggered by periods of great stress, including relationship breakdowns, serious illness, bereavements, childbirth or any other event that causes an emotional upheaval. In rare cases, a sub-type OCD in children known as PANDAS OCD can be triggered by strep throat, but unlike regular OCD, the symptoms of this type of the disorder come on extremely fast.
What are the symptoms of OCD disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is marked by obsessions and compulsions. The obsessions can take many different forms and range from unwanted images in your head, worrying thoughts or ideas that you cannot get rid of. Compulsions arise out of the obsessions and are repetitive behaviour patterns performed to relieve the overwhelming anxiety caused by the obsessions.
For example, obsessions about germs and cleanliness are common amongst OCD sufferers. The person might begin to obsess about contamination from germs and bacteria. As a result, they start compulsively washing their hands each and every time they touch something, or clean the house from top to bottom, endlessly. Obviously obsessive cleaning is not such a bad thing, but as time goes on, it can begin to take over the person’s life until they cannot do anything else but clean.
OCD obsessions and compulsions cause great anxiety in the sufferer, particularly if they take the form of obsessive thoughts about loved ones—some people are plagued with thoughts of murdering a relative or friend, or they become convinced that something bad will happen to a loved one if they fail to ring home at a specific time.
How is obsessive compulsive disorder treated?
OCD is treated using a combination of medications and psychotherapy. The patient will normally be prescribed antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft to reduce levels of anxiety, although it is worth mentioning that not everyone responds well to such treatment and medications tend to be more affective in older people and those in the early stages of the disorder.
Psychotherapy and exposure therapy can be a very effective way of treating the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. The aim of cognitive behaviour and exposure therapy is to help you confront your worst fears in a controlled environment. Statistics show that this type of treatment has a good success rate for OCD patients, although patients benefit more from the therapy when they have a high level of trust in their therapist.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a new type of psychotherapy that can be used to treat the symptoms of OCD. It works in a similar way to exposure therapies, but rather focussing on reducing the symptoms, ACT takes the view that anxiety is not something we can eliminate, so instead of waiting until the anxiety and obsessions have gone, we have to tackle the feelings head on in order to move forward.