What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a chronic mental health condition that causes unwanted repeated thoughts or obsessions or compulsions to do something again & again, followed by feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and stress. Some people have only obsessions or compulsions, and few can have both.
People with OCD often keep biting their nails or tend to have negative thoughts frequently. But OCD is way beyond all this. People may have a compulsive habit of washing hands after touching something or may have an obsession thought about certain days or colours are good or bad. The person with OCD feels powerless in controlling any of their compulsion or obsessions.
We all have a habit that can repeat sometimes. But people with OCD have actions or thoughts that:
- Are out of your control;
- Aren’t enjoyable;
- Interfere with your social life or work;
There are two main symptoms of OCD: obsessions & compulsions. People with OCD are also aware that their actions, habits, and thoughts don’t make sense. The OCD symptoms are not short-lived or fleeting. Milder symptoms can also last for an hour or so each day and further affect your daily chores too.
A few symptoms that are related to obsessive thoughts are:
- Biting nails;
- Worries about dirt, illness, or germs;
- Fear of harming someone or yourself;
- Violent thoughts;
- Precise sexual thoughts;
- Worries about health & safety of yours & everyone else;
- Cross-questioning about your sexual desires;
- Unwanted sounds, words, or images;
- Panic about throwing things;
These intrusive things and thoughts keep happening, no matter how much you try to avoid them. It is advisable to take steps to prevent these symptoms before they get strong with the passing days.
Compulsive behaviours examples are:
- Repeating certain phrases;
- Washing objects, body, or hands;
- Organizing things in a specific way;
- Touching something several times;
- Buying different colours or patterns of the same item;
- Seeking consolation from others;
- Hiding things to hurt yourself or others;
What Causes OCD?
There is no exact cause of OCD, but one of the causes of OCD can be a family history.
As per the National Institute of Mental Health, if there is irregular development and impairment in the brain, the person might suffer from OCD. OCD is linked with serotine– it is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood & sleep and performs many other functions of the body. So, if your brain doesn’t respond to your brain, there are chances of suffering from OCD.
Also, OCD is more common in women than in men. Even young adults or teens suffer from OCD. And stress can further worsen the symptoms of OCD.
Risk Factors for OCD
If you have a family history to develop OCD, the below-listed factors can increase the risk of developing this condition:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
A serious head injury can be followed by a few symptoms of OCD.
- Trauma or Stress
If a person is going through stress at work, at home, or in personal life, there are chances of developing OCD which can worsen the existing symptoms.
- Childhood Abuse
Children who have suffered from traumatic childhood experiences such as abuse, child molestation, physical assault, bullying, neglecting, have a chance of developing OCD.
Personality traits like perfectionism, intensified feelings of responsibility, or difficulty handling uncertainty, maybe the factors that can lead to OCD.
- Childhood Acute Neuropsychiatric Symptoms (CANS)
Many times, OCD develops in children after an infection. Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders, known as PANDAS are one of the syndromes that are caused by streptococcal infection. There can also be other infections or diseases.
But it may also happen that a person has other risk factors & family history of OCD and still has developed OCD. And, people might be unknown with the risk factors but still develop OCD.
OCD can also develop in people with mental health conditions, such as:
- Tourette Syndrome;
- Social Anxiety Disorder;
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);
- Eating Disorders;
- Major Depressive Disorder;
If you have any symptoms of obsessions or compulsions, take the help of a trained mental health professional. The health professional can help to diagnose and provide the best treatment options.
A mental health professional won’t judge you and will examine & understand your symptoms to give you the best possible treatment.
They ask you questions about your compulsions or obsessions your experience, like:
- For how much time they occur each day
- How do these obsessions and compulsions affect your daily life & relationships?
- What efforts do you put in to suppress or ignore them?
- Are you taking any medications?
Your doctor may advise undergoing blood tests and physical exams to provide the best treatments.
If you have any of the symptoms of OCD, it is always a good idea to connect with a therapist. They can give you some helpful treatment options.
OCD treatment is a combination of psychotherapy & medication treatment.
A therapist may prescribe psychotropic medications that can help to suppress OCD symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also called psychiatric drugs can suppress obsessions and compulsions. These medications take a few months to show positive results, so take your medications as directed by your therapists.
The common medications are escitalopram (Lexapro), citalopram, sertraline, fluvoxamine, and fluoxetine. If the symptoms persist, your doctor will give antipsychotic drugs like risperidone or aripiprazole.
If you face any side effects after taking these medications, let your therapists know about these unwanted symptoms as soon as possible.
Most mental health therapists recommend combining medications with therapy. Medications will only provide relief from the symptoms. And therapy will help control unwanted thoughts, cope with emotional distress, provide strategies for relaxation, and change useless behaviours.
Therapies recommended for OCD are:
Exposure & Response Prevention
ERP therapy involves exposure to fearful situations. The ultimate goal of ERP therapy is to learn how to manage distress obsessions caused without getting involved in compulsive behaviours.
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
The therapy involves engaging in mindfulness skills that help cope with stress triggered by obsessive thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the best therapies that can help reframe patterns of negative thoughts & unwanted behaviours.
Types of OCD
There are no specific types of OCD, but taking into consideration the symptoms there are subtypes of OCD. But unofficially, there are three types of OCD listed below:
Relationship OCD is where people face problems and trust issues with their partners. They tend to experience compulsive behaviours and intrusive thoughts about their relationship. They keep having frequent questions & doubts about their relationship.
This type of OCD is related to obsessions & compulsions related to religious beliefs. Such people pray a certain number of times in a day, act/decide on a specific day/time only, do cleansing rituals, repeat mantras, or go to religious places often.
Pure Obsession OCD
Pure obsession OCD is characterized by religious, violent, or sexual obsessions and thoughts but no physical compulsions. Examples are self-harm or unintentionally trying to harm others and persistent fears of harming themselves or others.
OCD in Children
There are many people who experience the symptoms of OCD during their childhood only. But children may not experience symptoms the same as adults. For instance:
- A child may not understand their compulsions or obsessions are uncontrollable;
- They believe everyone has the same urges & thoughts;
- Obsessions are less evident. Thoughts like fear of losing loved ones, and magical thinking, may also seem like a typical part of child development;
- They experience symptoms from multiple categories;
OCD treatment for children involves medication, therapy, or both.
There is no cure to prevent obsessive-compulsive disorder but if you consult a mental health therapist at the right time, it may help to prevent OCD from getting worse and affecting your daily life. If you are looking for a therapist, feel free to contact Truhap, the best psychologist in Hyderabad.
An OCD in a child is severe and disruptive in comparison to adults. If any parent notices unwanted actions or negative thoughts in their child, don’t just wait and visit Truhap, a child psychologist in Hyderabad. You can visit the website, www.truhap.com, or contact us at +91 9491 208 645 to help you with OCD.