Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a type of psychiatric disorder involving thoughts.

4% people have the illness. It occurs both in men and women and is prevalent across all ages.It usually starts in adolescence but can also happen in childhood.

OCD is characterized by what are called obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions : Obsessions are constant, intrusive, unwanted thoughts that cause distressing emotions. People experiencing obsessions recognize that these persistent thoughts or images are a product of their own mind and are excessive or unreasonable but they are unable to control them, and feel distressed by them.

Compulsions : Compulsions are urges to do something to lessen distress, usually the discomfort caused by an obsession. When severe, a constant repetition of rituals may fill the day, making a normal routine impossible.

Some of the common obsessions and compulsions include the following :

Cleaning, contamination and hand-washing : For fear that real or imagined germs, dirt, or chemicals will “contaminate” them, some people spend many hours washing themselves or cleaning their surroundings.

Repeating : To dispel anxiety, some people utter a name, phrase, or behavior several times. While they know that these repetitions won’t actually guard against injury, they fear harm will come to them if they don’t do them.

Preoccupation with symmetry : While neatness doesn’t signify a disorder, some people develop an overwhelming concern about where things go on a desk or the appearance of a room.

Checking : The fear of harming oneself or others by forgetting to turn off the stove or lock the door develops into the ritual of checking.

Causes :
The imbalance of brain chemicals, neurotransmitters, especially serotonin is considered the main cause for OCD. Genetics also seems to play a part, and there have been some studies changes in brain structure in this illness. The principals of learning like conditioning and observational learning also play an important role in starting and maintaining obsessions and compulsions.

Treatment :
Medications and CBT are very effective treatments.