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Mental disorders are far more difficult to treat. They create problems not only for the person suffering but also for the family dealing with the person affected. These are enigmatic disorders as they are difficult to understand and treat.

One such disorder is the OCD. In this article on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder facts we are going to learn a few things listed below:

  • What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? (Facts 1-3)
  • What happens in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? (Facts 4-8)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder physical symptoms (Facts 9-10)
  • What are the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder categories (Fact 11)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder causes (Facts 13-19)
  • When do Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms show up? (Facts 20-21)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder treatment (Facts 22-25)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Facts: 1-5

1. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or generally called as OCD is a type of Neurosis. Well, what is Neurosis? American Psychological Association (APA) defines Neurosis as, “ Mental disorders in which a person does not have signs of brain abnormalities and does not display grossly irrational thinking or violate basic norms but does experience subjective distress.”

2. In simple words, Neurosis are those disorders which causes anxiety, stress but the person having Neurosis doesn’t have any major impairment in brain. This form of disorder can be cured completely and doesn’t even require hospitalization in most of the cases.

3. Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder a mental disorder? Yes! APA defines OCD as, “A mental disorder characterized by obsessions such as recurrent thoughts, images, or impulses that recur or persist despite efforts to suppress them and compulsions such as repetitive, purposeful acts performed according to certain rules or in a ritualized manner.”

4. The person suffering from OCD will behave as if he is compelled to do things in an order and that too repeatedly. It is not that they do it willingly but they do face a lot of anxiety and stress if they don’t follow the order in which they usually do things.

5. The person is fully aware of his behavior but he can’t stop himself from following a pattern and doing things repeatedly. Obsessions and Compulsions are seen in this disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Facts: 6-10

6. Obsessions include things like mental images, urges and repeated thoughts which lead to anxiety. Compulsions are the actions which are repeated over and over again to decrease the anxiety caused by the Obsessions.

7. Some of the obsessive thoughts include being scared of contamination, thoughts related to sex, religion which are considered illicit in that person’s culture, thoughts which are aggressive, an exaggerated need for perfection.

8. Some of the compulsive actions are cleaning hands repeatedly, keeping things in order, counting, praying excessively due to religious fear, etc. Remember Lady Macbeth? After murdering the King, she gets into a habit of washing her hands again and again. It can be seen that she is trying to wash off her sin by washing her hands.

9. Some people also show “tics” which are uncontrollable muscle movements or vocalizations. Some of the motor and vocal tics are shrugging shoulders, wincing face, clearing your throat, sniffing etc. It must be kept in mind that even tics are repeated.

10. Apart from these, there are other symptoms. The person who has OCD generally has feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, shame etc. Stomach aches, anxiety, increase in heart beat, breathing issues, headaches, giddiness, etc., are also seen.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Facts: 11-15

11. There are few categories in which people who have OCD generally fit in.

  • Washers – Scared of germs, so continuously wash something or the other.
  • Checkers – They check on things multiple times.
  • Sinners and Doubters – They think that if things aren’t perfect, then situations go against them. They are scared of punishment.
  • Arrangers and Counters – They take perfection to a whole new level. Same like sinners and doubters, they think that something will terribly go wrong if they don’t follow the order.
  • Hoarders – They think that if they throw anything away even if it is not useful, they will face troubles.

12. It is to be kept in mind that these all are done due to fear and a vicious cycle is into play here. First, an obsessive thought occurs, which is followed by increased level of anxiety. Then compulsive acts are done to reduce anxiety and anxiety decreases but only for a short time. Yet again, another obsessive thought occurs.

13. The causes of OCD are not known accurately. But family and twin studies have pointed out few links which have an influence. Earlier, they considered that OCD arises because of the low serotonin levels. However, recent studies show that there is problem with the neural pathways which connect judgment and planning part of the brain to another part which controls the messages concerning movement of the body.

14. There are slight differences in the sub cortical and cortical regions of the brain between OCD patients and normal people. This is not conclusive and there are many researches going on in this field.

15. It is seen that heredity is one of the causes of OCD. If OCD is present in that individual’s relatives, then the person becomes more vulnerable to OCD biologically. The risk is even higher if the person’s close relatives got OCD when they were in adolescence or childhood.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Facts: 16-20

16. Did you know that family members of OCD patients are at higher risk in getting other disorders? Some of such disorders are Trichotillomania (pulling hair), Hypochondriasis (excessively worrying about your health), eating disorders, Tourette’s Syndrome or Body Dismorphic Disorder.

17. There are certain environmental factors which lead to OCD. Some of them are relationship issues, abuse, changes in living condition or changes in school or at workplace.

18. Streptococcus (a type of bacteria) is also linked to OCD. If infections (only few of them) caused by this bacteria are not treated properly and if they keep on recurring, then the person is at a greater risk of getting OCD.

19. Children develop OCD after a streptococcal infection. It is called as PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections).

20. Did you know that most people develop symptoms of OCD when they were children? The symptoms may begin to appear when they are barely 7 years old. During childhood, more of boys get affected with OCD but when seen in adults, women tend to lead the way in having OCD.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Facts: 21-25

21. The symptoms of OCD changes over time. For example: a person may be excessively worried about cleanliness (fear of contamination) but after some time, he may hoard things even though the things are completely useless.

22. How to treat OCD? It is mostly and usually treated with psychotherapy or medication. Sometimes both the treatments are used. In psychotherapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) is used.

23. In CBT, the person is encouraged to speak out his fears and is asked to resist the response which he usually gives (also called as exposure and response prevention or simply exposure therapy). Along with this, they are taught to change the way they think.

24. In medication therapy, anti-depressants are given. Sometimes anti psychotic drugs are also given to OCD patients (especially for the ones who have OCD and tics disorder). In severe cases, ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy, also called as Psycho surgery) is used. Here electric shocks of small magnitude are given to the patients via their scalps (the patients are given general anesthesia). Continuous ECT has shown good results.

25. There is another way called DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation). Here small electrodes are placed in the parts of the brain which are linked to OCD. Group and Family therapies also help in reducing the stress caused by OCD.

The bad news is that we cannot prevent OCD. But the good news is, it is completely treatable and the person gets back to his normal or at least near-to-normal lifestyle.

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Sources Referred: 1, 2, 3, 4

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