Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness characterized by repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions) or the urge to do something repeatedly (compulsions). You may not want to think or do these things, but you feel powerless to stop. OCD is commonly associated with depression, which is not surprising. Since OCD is a depressing disorder, it is easy to see how someone could develop clinical depression when their daily lives are filled with unwanted thoughts and urges to engage in senseless and excessive behavior (rituals).
OCD Symptoms – Obsessions
Most people at some point have concerns and worries that they exaggerate and call obsessions. Here are some common obsessions:
- Fear of contamination from germs, dirt, poisons, and other environmental and physical factors
- Fear of illness, accidents, or death to oneself or to others.
- An excessive concern for symmetry, precision, and orderliness
- Excessive worries about health, religion, or morality
- Aware of and able to remember things.
A person may be obsessed with something all the time. In addition to physical objects, situations, smells, or what is said on television, radio, or in a conversation, they may also be triggered by the conditions around them. Obsessive fears usually extend beyond a specific trigger – such as a bottle of coolant – to include anything that might look like it or have been near it, such as cars, supermarket shelves, a puddle on the road, car keys, and petrol stations.
An obsession can change in nature and severity and is not rational. Anxiety leads to vigilance for potential threats and a desperate need for certainty and control. As a result of obsessions, one can feel irritated, uncomfortable, and anxious, as well as disgusted and overwhelmed.
OCD Symptoms – Compulsions
Compulsive behaviors (actions) and cognitive behaviors (thoughts) can both be compulsions. Compulsions are repetitive actions that usually follow a specific pattern or are performed according to specific rules. In most cases, compulsive behaviors are undertaken to avoid or reduce the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts and to make things feel just right
The following are Some Common Compulsions:
- Hand washing, bathing, and brushing your teeth excessively
- Excessive cleaning and washing of surfaces, household items, and vehicles
- Checking locks, electrical appliances, and other safety-related items frequently
- An activity or action that is repeated on a regular basis, such as reading, writing, walking, picking up something, or opening a door
- Place items, furniture, books, clothes, etc. according to rigid rules and patterns
- Tapping, touching, or moving in a specific way or a certain number of times
- In need of constant reassurance or asking questions constantly
- Repeating words or numbers mentally a certain number of times, or focusing on ‘good’ or ‘safe’ numbers
- Replacing negativity with positivity.
Compulsions are usually like rituals; they have specific rules and patterns, and they repeat constantly. Compulsions provide illusory relief from anxiety for a short time. In fact, they reinforce anxiety by making the obsessions seem more real, causing anxiety to return soon after.
Causes of OCD
OCD Disorder causes are unknown There are several theories about the causes of OCD, including:
- Compulsions are learned behaviors that are repetitive and habitual when they are related to relieving anxiety.
- OCD is inherited and genetic in origin.
- These conditions are caused by chemical, structural, or functional abnormalities in the brain.
- OCD symptoms are exacerbated and maintained when distorted beliefs are embraced.
There is a possibility that several factors interact to trigger OCD. Stressful life events, hormonal changes, and personality traits may also contribute to the underlying causes.
How OCD is treated?
There are several OCD treatments, as listed above
- Psychological treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy
- Anxiety management techniques
- Education and support groups
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy aims to change patterns of thinking, beliefs, and behaviors that may lead to anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. In this therapy, symptoms are controlled through education. In education, myths about the causes of OCD are exposed.
Treatment involves gradually exposing the individual to situations that trigger their obsessions while also reducing their avoidance and compulsion behaviors. Usually, the process begins with less feared situations. Daily exposure tasks and prevention of compulsions are repeated consecutively until anxiety decreases.
With time, this allows the individual to rebuild trust in their ability to handle and function despite anxiety. A process like this is called exposure and response prevention (ERP).
Cognitive behavior therapy should be conducted by a skilled, trained mental health professional. This type of treatment may be flawed if you use excessive alcohol, drugs, and medications.
Anxiety Management Techniques for OCD
A person can manage their own anxiety symptoms through anxiety management techniques. Relaxation techniques, slow breathing techniques, mindfulness meditation, and hyperventilation control are just a few of the techniques that can relieve chronic stress. In conjunction with a cognitive behavior therapy treatment program, these techniques are most effective when used regularly.
OCD Support Groups and Education
Support groups allow people with OCD and the families of those with the disorder to gather comfortably and safely to exchange support. Furthermore, the groups provide an opportunity to learn more about the disorder and build social networks.
Medication for OCD
OCD symptoms have been reduced by certain medications, especially antidepressants that affect the serotonin system. Only a medical professional can prescribe this medication.
Nausea, headaches, dry mouth, blurred vision, dizziness, and fatigue are common side effects of antidepressants. After the first few weeks of treatment, these effects often diminish. You should discuss your side effects with the Best Psychiatrist In Coimbatore if they are severe or last for a long time.
Usually, it takes several weeks for the medication to take effect. Under medical supervision, the dose should be reduced slowly when reducing or stopping the medication.
Children with rheumatic fever who develop Sydenham’s chorea are at an increased risk of developing OCD, so early treatment with antibiotics can reduce the chances of future obsessive thinking.
Hospitalisation for OCD
For some people, hospital treatment and assessment are helpful, particularly when symptoms are severe. Hospital stays can last for several days to a few weeks.
Self-help tips for people living with OCD
In addition to seeking therapy, you can help yourself in many ways. Here are some suggestions:
- Focus your attention on something else (like exercising or playing a computer game). A positive step toward coping with compulsive behaviors is the ability to delay their onset.
- Make a note of every obsessive thought you have. You can use this to identify how repetitive your obsessions are.
- Help ease them when you feel the urge. Consider locking the door with extra attention if you compulsively check that it is locked after your arrival. Later, if the urge to check again arises, it will be easier to re-label it as ‘just an obsessive thought’.
- Rather than suppressing your obsessions, set aside a time during the day to obsess. The rest of the day should be free from obsessions and compulsions. *If you have thoughts or urges throughout the day, write them down, save them for your worry period, and continue on with your day.
- Engage in self-care. Stress does not cause OCD, but it can trigger or worsen obsessive and compulsive behavior. Practice relaxation techniques (including mindfulness meditation and deep breathing) for at least 30 minutes every day.