Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

It’s totally okay if you sometimes, go back and double-check that the iron is unplugged or worry that you might be infected by germs, or even have an occasional unpleasant, violent thought. However if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors become so consuming that they start interfering with your everyday life. Obsessive-compulsive disorder or more commonly known as OCD is a mental health characterized by distressing, intrusive, obsessive thoughts and repetitive compulsive physical or mental acts. People who have OCD, will probably recognize that their obsessive thoughts and their compulsive behavior are irrational yet they can’t resist them and break free. A 2001 World Health Organization (WHO) mental health report estimated that OCD was among the top twenty causes of illness-related disability worldwide for people aged fifteen to forty-four years. The report also suggested that OCD was the fourth most common mental illness after phobias, substance abuse, and major depression. OCD is associated with a wide range of functional impairments and has a significant impact on social and working life.

Just like a needle getting stuck on an old record, OCD causes the brain to get stuck on a particular thought or urge. For instance you might wash your hands until they are scrubbed raw for fear of germs. Though you don’t derive any sense of pleasure from performing these repetitive actions, they may offer a temporary sense of relief from the anxiety created by these obsessive thoughts. Common obsessions include contamination fears, worries about harm to self or others, the need for symmetry, exactness and other, religious/ moralistic concerns, forbidden thoughts or a need to seek reassurance or confess. Common compulsions include, cleaning/washing, checking, counting, repeating, straightening, routinized behavior, praying, touching, tapping or rubbing and avoidance. Unlike adults, children need not review their symptoms as nonsensical to meet diagnostic criteria.

OCD is segregated from other mental health conditions by the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both. The obsessions or compulsions cause marked distress, and are time-consuming. Signs of OCD can occur in children and teenagers, with the disease usually beginning gradually and worsening with age. Indications of OCD can be mild or severe. Some people come in contact with obsessive thoughts only, without engaging themselves in compulsive behavior. A few who experience OCD successfully hide their symptoms for fear of embarrassment or stigma. Friends and family may, however, notice some of the more physical sign.

Over the past three decades, OCD has moved from an almost untreatable, life-long psychiatric disorder to a highly manageable one. This is a very welcome change to the 1% – 3% of children and adults with this disorder as, thanks to advances in both pharmacological and psychological therapies, prognosis for those afflicted with OCD is quite good in the long run, even though most have comorbid disorder that are also problematic. We still have a long way to go, anyhow, until OCD can be described as either easily treatable or the effective treatments are largely known about among clinicians. Successful treatment can significantly improve and even cure OCD.