Your Guide to Conquering OCD
OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) affects thousands of people. It is a psychiatric condition where people display compulsive behavior that is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsions to repeat certain actions, such as washing hands continuously. The action is prompted by the feeling of being dirty and lacking control.
OCD is a psychiatric condition which cause people to experience unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and these thoughts tend to lead sufferers to repeat particular behaviors (compulsions).
Most of us have habits or routines that we do daily, such as brushing our teeth, showering, etc. but having OCD takes these routines to a level which interferes with one’s daily life. Most people with OCD are aware that their obsession and compulsion makes little sense, yet they feel powerless to stop the thoughts and behaviors from recurring.
The obsessions usually stem from ideas, impulses or images that repeat in a person’s mind. OCD patients dislike the reoccurring thoughts, yet they cannot seem to take control of their actions and thoughts. Some patients will experience brief obsessive-compulsive reactions which they find uncontrollable and annoying. Other people experience the thoughts obsessively and cannot seem to escape them.
Obsessive thoughts cause people to feel frightened and anxious or nervous. They tend to fight the reactions or thoughts by performing particular behaviors that act in accordance with OCD rules. The behaviors are compulsions, which are often very like rituals. People with OCD may experience obsessive thoughts which make them fear germs and in turn, they will obsessively try to avoid germs. Due to these thoughts, the person will obsessively or repeatedly wash his or her hands. They may wash them more after using a public bathroom.
Once the person performs the repeated behaviors the thoughts temporarily ease, but once the nervousness and fear return the person with OCD will repeat the same routines again.
Understanding OCD and the symptoms causes will help you find a way to manage the obsessions and compulsions.
People with obsessions have a fear of germs - the little microorganisms that have always been in our homes. They experience disgust at their bodily fluids and feces. They express concern over order, exactness, symmetry and balance. They worry that tasks are done correctly, even when the patient is aware that this should be of no consequence. They fear thinking sinful or evil thoughts and obsess over particular images, sounds, numbers or words constantly. They constantly need approval and reassurance and fear causing harm to friends or family.
Common compulsions include:
Constant grooming and cleaning, e.g. washing hands, brushing teeth or showering repeatedly
Repeatedly checking if drawers are shut), appliances turned off, doors locked etc.
Repeating actions, e.g. repeatedly going in and out of doors, sitting down, touching particular objects, getting out of a chair, arranging items in a certain fashion constantly, counting numbers in a certain way over and over, saving newspapers, containers, mail etc which are unimportant and constantly seeking approval and reassurance.
Is OCD common?
At one time, it was believed that OCD was a rare condition. However, recent studies revealed that over 3 million people living in America between the ages of eighteen and fifty-four may have OCD. About 2.3 percent of the American population may have OCD. Men and women are both affected by OCD equally.
What is the cause of OCD?
There has not been a shred of evidence to prove any single cause of OCD. There has been some research in which experts found that chemical imbalances might be responsible to a degree. The chemicals in the brain carry messages from one nerve cell to another. One of the chemicals experts believe is responsible is Serotonin. Serotonin helps to maintain the brain so that people do not carry out behaviors repeatedly.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter chemical; the chemical derives from amino acid tryptophan, which is broadly distributed into the tissues. Serotonin constricts blood vessels at injury sites. It may also affect the emotional states, but there is no clinical proof that it will alter behaviors, so the exact cause of OCD remains as yet undiscovered.
People with OCD may also have anxiety attacks, phobias, fear of flying or spiders and/or panic attacks. They may also have depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or other learning disorders and eating disorders. They may have dyslexia. There is no evidence that everyone with OCD has associating conditions as well, but some do.
What treatments are available?
Medication and a combination of CBT techniques may benefit those with OCD. Combining medicines with a variety of therapies has proven to help many patients who suffered from OCD.
Some of the common medicines to treat OCD will also treat depression and those include Clomipramine, Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Fluvoxamine and Paroxetine. However, the medications may cause side effects including dry mouth, drowsiness, nausea and a lack of interest in sex.
OCD patients are often preoccupied with orderliness, perfectionism and control, which is what leads us to teach how we learn from celebrating mistakes.
People with OCD are also reliable, dependable, methodical and orderly. Yet their inflexibility makes it harder for them to adapt to change, which is why we will consider CBT changing habits. People with OCD tend to have a hard time making decisions because they analyze all aspects of their problems. They need to learn to adapt to new ways to solve problems effectively.
Patients with OCD take responsibilities seriously. Since they have a hard time completing tasks due to their intolerance to making mistakes or acting imperfect, they must learn the value of celebrating mistakes.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is generally characterized by reoccurring and unwanted intrusive images, ideas or impulses that may seem weird, nasty, silly, or plain horrible (obsessions). When these feelings and thoughts develop, the patient may get the urge to find something that relieves them of the discomfort caused from the obsession And gives them a temporary feeling of order and control (compulsions).
Most times the obsessions relate to harm, danger or risks. Common obsessions include concern about germs or contamination. For example, the patient may show concern about touching foreign objects, such as doorknobs, which lead the patients to believe they may get a disease. The patient expresses doubt, e.g. they may worry that the door is not locked. Patients with OCD tend to fear hurting others or fears loss. Thus, treating them with techniques in CBT that help them overcome their fears is the best procedure to help them to stop worrying about things that are out of their control.
Around 95% of the patients with OCD feel compelled to perform intentional acts, rituals and repetitive actions. They will obsessively and compulsively wash and clean to eliminate germs. They use rituals to try to control their obsessions and then checks to allay doubts. They may hoard to prevent loss and avoid people who are subject to become violent. You can observe people with OCD and instantly know that the patient has the disorder because they will obsessively wash their hands and check to see if the door is locked.
Patients with OCD will count repeatedly. They may also make repeated statements to diminish dangers that cannot be observed. People with OCD may have obsessions but not compulsions. People with OCD are aware that their obsessive thinking does not reflect any real risks. They are also aware that their compulsive behaviors are unproductive. Thus, we can see from this knowledge that the OCD patients have that it is possible to reform their thinking patterns through Cognitive Behavior Therapy. We may use Exposure therapy in CBT to help the patients overcome their symptoms.
Differences noted in OCD and OCP
Yet, we must understand that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder differs from Obsessive-Compulsive Personality. People with personality disorders go through extremes of symptoms that drive them to strive for perfection. People with OCD often hide their ritualistic behaviors, as they are aware of what is occurring in their mind and understand that it is unreal. OCP patients do not.
People with OCD tend to suffer from depression as well. Because it is not a clinical depression backed by any medical cause, it is possible to use Exposure therapy and other techniques in CBT to help them overcome their symptoms.
Now that we have discussed common symptoms of OCD and helped you to understand the difference in OCP and OCD, we can move forward to the eight steps to overcoming OCD effectively. In order for this guide to work for you, you must be willing to take action by performing the steps provided.