The compulsive disorder or OCD Obsessive is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. This disorder can develop at any age , but it is most common during early adulthood. OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with the affected person’s daily life, but treatments can keep it under control .
Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
The obsessive compulsive disorder affects people differently, but generally cause very particular pattern of thought and behavior . This pattern consists of four main steps:
- Obsession . An obsession is an unwanted and distressing thought, image, or impulse that persistently creeps into the mind , causing feelings of anxiety, disgust, or discomfort.
- Anxiety . The obsession generates a feeling of intense anxiety or anguish, difficult to cope with.
- Compulsion . A compulsion is a repetitive behavior or mental act that makes you feel the need to take an action to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings caused by obsessive and anxious thinking.
- Temporary relief . The compulsive behavior temporarily relieves anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety do not go away, so in time they return, causing the cycle to begin again .
It is possible to have only obsessive thoughts or compulsive acts, but usually people with OCD experience both . For example, a person with OCD and fear that they will enter their house to rob , will have the need to check all the windows and doors before leaving the house and / or when entering after having been outside, otherwise, they do not know I would feel safe.
Almost everyone has unpleasant or unwanted thoughts at some point in our lives , such as thinking that we have not locked our house or our car; which can cause us even sudden and unpleasant fatalistic mental images. If you have a persistent and unpleasant thought that dominates your mind to the point of interrupting other thoughts, you may have an obsession .
Here are some common obsessions that affect people with OCD :
- Fear of deliberately hurting yourself or others. An example could be that fear of attacking other people , especially close ones, such as family members.
- Fear of hurting oneself or others by mistake: for example, fear of setting fire to the house by leaving the kitchen on
- Fear of getting a disease , infection, or unpleasant substance
- Need for symmetry or order : for example, sort books by size, color, alphabetical order, etc.
- You may have obsessive thoughts of a violent or sexual nature that you find repulsive or terrifying. Having these types of thoughts does not imply carrying them out .
Compulsions arise as a way of trying to reduce or prevent anxiety caused by the obsessive thinking in question, although in reality this behavior is not rationally connected to thinking in many cases. Most people with OCD are aware that compulsive behavior is not rational and does not make logical sense, but they cannot help but act that way, “just in case.”
For example, a person who fears contamination by germs may wash his hands repeatedly, just as another person with fear of harming his family will have the need to repeat an action several times, as a ritual, to neutralize the thought that him haunts.
Here are some common compulsive behaviors in people with OCD :
- Wash your hands frequently
- Different checks, such as that the doors are properly closed, the gas tap is off, etc.
- Sort anything they see “messy”
- Ask for peace of mind
- Repeating words in your head
- Seeking neutralizing thoughts to counteract obsessive thoughts
- Avoid places and situations that can trigger obsessive thoughts
Not all compulsive behaviors will be obvious to those around you.
Causes of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
The causes of this disorder are not entirely clear , but several different factors can play a role in the onset and development of the condition. Let’s look at some of these factors :
- Family history . OCD is more likely to develop if a family member has it, possibly due to a genetic cause .
- Differences in the brain . Some people with obsessive compulsive disorder have unusually active areas in their brain, or low levels of a chemical known as serotonin .
- Life events . Obsessive compulsive disorder can be more common in people who have been bullied , abused, or neglected, and sometimes begins after a major life event, such as after giving birth or after grief.
- Personality . Tidy, meticulous, and methodical people with high personal standards may be more prone to developing this disorder, as may those who suffer from anxiety or have a very strong sense of responsibility for themselves and others.
Treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
In general, cognitive behavioral therapy, or cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, is the first step in treating OCD . This therapy helps the patient to face their fears by exposing their fears and obsessive thoughts without correcting them through compulsive behavior. This exposure helps reduce anxiety gradually.
Response prevention is a therapy that attempts to eliminate the normal responses of patients to these fears . For example, people with a fear of germs can expose themselves to an object that they know is contaminated, avoiding repeated hand washing after exposure, thus preventing the response.
The cognitive therapy is often combined with behavioral therapy. It addresses the thought processes behind the fears and helps patients realize that their rituals will not prevent or reduce the chances of unpleasant events occurring .
While cognitive behavioral therapy has no side effects , some people respond to treatment better than others. Patients who are less eager to receive treatment for their OCD usually do better, as do those who are willing to change their habits . Therefore, it is important that the patient be cooperative with his therapist and keep him informed of all his progress.
Antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help by upsetting the balance of chemicals in the brain. The effect of the medications is slower , it may take between eight and ten weeks before you notice the effects of this treatment, but most people will see a gradual positive evolution after the first month taking medicine.
If these treatments do not give the expected results on their own, they can be combined. Some people may be referred to a specialized mental health service for additional treatment.