What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common psychiatric disorder, affecting approximately 2.2 million American adults each year.
OCD causes afflicted individuals marked distress, occupies much of their time, and interferes with normal routines, productivity at work or school, and social relationships. People with OCD often go several years without treatment. One recent study found that it took on average more than 17 years after first experiencing OCD symptoms for people to receive treatment.
OCD causes people to experience unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that can prompt them to carry out repeated actions (compulsions) to reduce the anxiety produced by those thoughts. Common obsessions include excessive fear of contamination, repeated doubts (such as thinking you’ve harmed someone while driving), a need for ordering and symmetry, and aggressive or horrific impulses. Common compulsions include repeated cleaning (such as hand-washing), repeated checking (such as checking to see if doors are locked), and counting.
Even though it may feel like an extension of normal worries, OCD is a serious, chronic and debilitating anxiety disorder.One difference between normal worries and OCD is how much time these behaviors or rituals take out of your day, and how much distress they cause you. People with OCD recognize that their thoughts are irrational, but can’t stop them. Treatment with medication and specific types of behavior modification may help reduce some OCD symptoms.
[Deleting the compulsions and obessions one by one and rescripting the beliefs underlying each one, the mind makes judgements and appraises situations in a new way thus alleviating the obsessive compulsive lack of impulse control that torments the person. Thus Restructuring Therapy is a good first step to remove and realign the fears creating the disorder.]
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Symptoms
The persistent unwanted obsessions — inappropriate ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images — that people with OCD experience are the kinds of everyday thoughts or worries that could pass through a person’s mind quickly and be dismissed. But those with OCD have trouble doing that, and find these obsessions cannot be controlled.
Some common obsessions include:
Fear of contamination
Need for particular order
To counteract these obsessions, people with OCD typically use repeated behaviors or thoughts, known as compulsions. Compulsions are often rituals that the person believes may reduce the risk of the obsessions coming true, or at least reduce the anxiety they produce. However, the compulsions often don’t accomplish this, nor are they usually useful in any other way. In fact, the compulsions or rituals can take up so much time from a person’s day that they get in the way of work, school, and family obligations.
Common compulsions include:
Repeating words silently
There are tools available to help identify patients with OCD; a psychiatrist may use these tools to help quantify the severity of OCD, distinguish it from other conditions, and measure response to treatment. These tools include symptom severity scales such as the Zohar-Fineberg Obsessive-Compulsive Screen and the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS)
Alternative therapies such as Restructuring Therapy’s deletion and rescripting within the clinical hypnotherapy session are new modalities to be tried.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Myths
OCD can be potentially misunderstood because of how it is portrayed in the media and can be confused with other psychiatric disorders. Separating out the facts is important for those with OCD and those who care about them.
Myth: OCD is a personality flaw in people who are just being picky or fussy or anal.
Fact: Being fussy is not OCD. The obsessions and compulsions of people with OCD cause serious distress, are time-consuming (more than 1 hour per day), and interfere with normal routines, such as work, social activities, or relationships with others.
Myth: OCD is caused by stress, so people with OCD just need to learn to relax and stop obsessing.
Fact: OCD is a fully accepted, debilitating, chronic psychiatric disorder that has been classified by the psychiatric community, and is treatable. Although the causes of OCD are unclear, stress can exacerbate OCD symptoms.
Myth: OCD behavior is caused by a dysfunctional childhood or poor self-esteem.
Fact: The causes of OCD are not entirely clear. Studies suggest that at least one chemical messenger in the brain, serotonin, may be associated with OCD.
Myth: Real OCD is very rare.
Fact: OCD is a common psychiatric disorder, affecting approximately 2.2 million American adults each year.