Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is best defined as an anxiety disorder which compels people to engage in obsessive behavior that may interfere with their careers and social lives. Further complications can result either from the distractions caused by OCD’s symptoms or from the general distress that it causes to the sufferer.
It also affects a significant amount of people. Obsessive compulsive disorder afflicts approximately 2.5% of the US population, which means that around 1 out of 40 Americans suffer from some variation of OCD. So although it may not be as prevalent as something people like to think, it is still a serious problem for a fair amount of the population. Most sufferers of this condition develop symptoms before the age of 30, although it may develop at a later age.
Different Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Behavior
OCD cases can be classified into different types based on the behavior being exhibited. Although there is some overlap between these these categories, each type of OCD has certain characteristics which are unique to it.
The first type of OCD deals with obsession that involves a harmful and often aggressive fixation on certain objects and subject. Obsession with religion and certain social activities are good examples of this.
The second type of OCD involves an obsession with symmetry, and is also often accompanied by repetitive behavior as well as a general compulsion towards arranging certain objects.
The third type of OCD involves a general paranoia over contamination, and is usually accompanied by an obsession with cleaning.
And finally, there is the type of OCD which involves hoarding, and is often accompanied by a general tendency to irrationally gather certain objects that attracts the sufferer’s attention.
The Symptoms of OCD
The thoughts and obsessions sparked by OCD can become uncontrollable, and in most cases, the person suffering from OCD will indulge his or her obsession even with the full knowledge that what he or she is doing is irrational. This is because the OCD is the result of repetitive behavior, one that the sufferer has probably engaged in for a very long time. Over time, this repetitive behavior leads to both conscious obsession and ritualization.
The compulsive side of OCD manifests itself through ritualistic behavior. They typically include excessive hand washing, nail biting, touching various random objects. It’s worth mentioning that compulsive behavior is often accompanied by conscious thought, and therefore, tends to require the focused desires and thoughts of the person suffering from OCD.
In contrast to this are habits, which occur with little conscious involvement from the sufferer. Related habits are therefore more routine in nature, and are rarely done in relation to any actual desire on the part of the sufferer. Moreover, habits are rarely complex activities, and unlike compulsive behavior, rarely cause stress. For those concerned about its symptoms you can review an OCD checklist to see if it applies to your current situation.
What Causes It?
While it’s difficult to pinpoint any specific cause for OCD, certain factors are believed to contribute to the problem. Genetics, chemical imbalance in the brain and childhood trauma are factors or potential factors that can play a role in the development of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
It’s worth pointing out, for example, that an imbalance of serotonin in the human brain can potentially increase a person’s chances of developing OCD. Likewise, traumatic childhood experiences, like being a victim of child abuse, can also contribute a person’s chances of developing OCD later on in life.
After a proper diagnosis from a qualified mental health care professional, treating obsessive-compulsive disorder typically involves cognitive behavioral psychotherapy and various types of medication. However, considering how OCD symptoms manifest differently among different people, a certain degree of flexibility is also required in treating individual patients.
Most therapies for treating OCD involve exposure therapy and prevention of ritualistic behaviors. The goal is to get the patient to withdraw from compulsive behavior for long periods of time, until finally, he or she is able to overcome the problem.
As for medication, SSRI or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are often used to treat cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The purpose of these medications is to increase the amount of serotonin in the patient’s brain in order to help prevent the severity of the condition. Other types of medication may also be employed in order to help improve a patient’s responses to therapy, and to speed up the treatment. ]
Some patients find relief in OCD support groups, where they can share their experiences with others that may be going through the exact same kind of ordeals. Knowing that you are not alone can be extremely beneficial and may help with any sort of depression symptoms that may arise from having to deal with this disorder. A patient with this condition should expect to treatment to be a long term part of their lives, however, given enough time and dedication treatment can help control or improve the most problematic parts of OCD and allow the patient to lead a productive life.
For further details on this disorder check out the very informative video below.