Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD): A Long-Lasting Disorder?

Medical researchers estimate that about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the U.S. OCD affects 2.2 million adults or 1.0% of the U.S. population. OCD is equally common among men and women.

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a common type of mental health disorder. It triggers a pattern of unwanted thoughts, ideas, expressions, and fears that lead to repeated behavior patterns in an individual. In other words, it is a mental health condition characterized by irrational thoughts that lead to compulsive behavior.

People who live with OCD often have compulsive habits like washing hands multiple times in fear of germs, checking the locked door or stove numerous times before leaving the house, etc. Engaging in such ritualistic behavior is not a matter of personal choice but rather a compulsion.

Though such compulsions help individuals cope with stress and anxiety directly from OCD, they complicate and disrupt everyday life activities. Therefore, it is essential to consult a mental health professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist to get effective treatment for such a mental health disorder.

The undiagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder can significantly reduce an individual’s quality of life and well being. Obsessive compulsive treatment options can range from medications and psychological therapy, which help individuals face their fear, negative thoughts, etc.

In addition, they can learn to overcome them by avoiding compulsions. This certainly helps ease the anxiety and distress that occur due to OCD symptoms.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What Are the Most Important Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

The symptoms of OCD can vary among patients depending upon the severity of the cases. OCD symptoms have been defined in two specific categories follows:

  • Obsessive symptoms
  • Compulsive symptoms

Some may experience either one or both types of symptoms. Therefore, it is essential to consult a mental health professional when such symptoms affect an individual’s work, school, or relationship.

Though the symptoms can range from mild to severe, they take up a great deal of an individual’s time and affect their daily routine.

Obsessive symptoms:

Obsessive symptoms of OCD are the repeated pattern of thoughts, feelings, ideas, urges that cause severe distress and anxiety.

No matter how much an OCD patient might want to avoid unwanted thoughts, they occur when one thinks or decides to do something. Some of the main obsessive symptoms of OCD are as follows:

  • Difficulty with handling the uncertain situation
  • Fear of getting contaminated by dirt or germs
  • Fear of being embarrassed or making a mistake
  • Aggressive or negative thoughts towards others or self
  • Having a constant need to arrange things in perfect order
  • Worry about the health and safety of oneself and others
  • Getting unwanted thoughts along with increased aggression
  • Constantly being aware of bodily sensations like breathing or blinking
  • Fear of saying something obscene or offensive to others

Studies have shown that up to 37% of men with OCD have some type of erectile dysfunction or are impotent. Reports show that these problems occur most frequently in male patients between 45 and 54 years old

As per a study, 37% of men between the age of 45-54 years with OCD experience some type of erectile dysfunction. To be more specific, people with OCD experience anxiety as the obsessive symptoms contributing to the psychological cause of impotence.

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Compulsive symptoms:

Compulsive symptoms of OCD are the repeated pattern of behavior or acts that one feels compelled to perform when one gets diagnosed with OCD. Engaging in compulsive behavior does not bring pleasure but gives temporary relief from stress and anxiety.

For a person who has OCD, the need to perform repetitive behavior becomes intense, due to which they become ceremonial. Some of the main compulsive symptoms of OCD are as follows:

  • A constant need to count things
  • An excessive amount of cleaning or hand washing
  • Arranging or ordering items in an aligned pattern
  • Repeated checking on things like locked doors or stove
  • Fear of touching doorknobs, public toilet or shaking hands
  • Collecting particular objects or buying several of them
  • Repeating certain routinized activities

Such compulsive symptoms arise due to the repeated pattern of obsessive thoughts that become difficult to control. Engaging in such compulsions helps an OCD patient relieve anxiety and stress and keeps the obsessive thoughts from coming true.

Also read: What Increases the Risk of Depression for an Individual?

What Is The Cause of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

A mental health disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder can arise due to several factors that can be biological, environmental, or psychological. Consulting a mental health expert for diagnosing OCD can help uncover the exact cause to treat.

Taking an effective obsessive compulsive disorder treatment can help individuals live a comfortable and long life. Some of the leading causes of obsessive compulsive disorder that one should look out for are as follows:

Genetic linkage:

Researchers have found evidence suggesting gene linkage in mental health disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder. Even if one family member gets diagnosed with a similar illness, chances for the other person’s family to develop such a mental health disorder significantly increase.

Imaging studies show that people who develop OCD have specific characteristic differences in their brains. For example, the ability to respond well to neurotransmitters(serotonin) changes.

Environmental factors:

A mental health disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder can also arise due to stressful or traumatic events in life. Researchers have found that OCD can occur due to pregnancy complications, chronic diseases, or traumatic brain injury

Brain abnormality:

Medical researchers estimate that obsessive compulsive disorder occurs due to a specific brain abnormality. Consequently, creates problems in communication between the front part of the brain and deeper brain structures.

Neurotransmitters like serotonin are primarily responsible for communication between brain cells. Therefore, increased serotonin levels in the brain can help alleviate OCD symptoms.

Getting a proper medical diagnosis can help uncover the exact cause of such mental health disorders and help chart out an effective treatment plan for the illness.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

How To Deal With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Many treatment options are available to manage and deal with a mental health disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder. One should consult a mental health expert like a psychologist or psychiatrist to make obsessive compulsive disorder a manageable illness. Some of the common ways to deal with obsessive compulsive disorder are as follows.

Medication:

Taking antidepressants and other psychiatric medicines is usually the first line of defense against the majority of mental health disorders. Such medication, however, should only be taken after consulting a mental health professional.

Antidepressants that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat obsessive compulsive disorder are Prozac and Zoloft. Unfortunately, it can take a couple of months for such medication to work correctly. Therefore, it is vital to consult a general physician if any side effects arise.

Therapy:

Medical professionals often recommend OCD patients undertake treatment to manage the symptoms of mental illness. Cognitive-behavioral therapy exposes OCD patients to their fears and negative thoughts. It helps them overcome the urges to engage in compulsive ritualistic behaviors.

To break the cycle of obsession and compulsions, one can also take exposure and response therapy. This exposes people to situations that provoke their addictions and the resulting distress while helping prevent their compulsive responses.

Relaxation technique:

Doing specific relaxation techniques like yoga, mindful meditation, and certain breathing techniques can also help manage the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. Such relaxation techniques can significantly impact thought-action fusion and create an ability to let go of unwanted thoughts.

Emotional support:

It is imperative to have the emotional support of close family members and friends in dealing with any mental health disorder. Going to support groups or joining residential treatment plans can be highly effective for an OCD patient.

Outlook

Before undergoing any form of obsessive compulsive disorder treatment, it is essential to take all the facts about the patient under condition. It is crucial to inform the doctor about a patient’s medical history during diagnosis.

One should not try to self-medicate mental health disorder symptoms and take medications only when recommended by a professional. However, there is no permanent cure for OCD. However, by taking an effective medical treatment, OCD can be managed, and one can still lead a healthy and comfortable life.

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Julain Carter is mental health expert for Goodrxmedicine.com. He is an experienced clinical mental health counsellor with recognition in cognitive behavioural therapy. Julian’s sharp behavioural observations reflect in both his personal and professional life.