Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychological disorder characterized by frequent, intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear and upsetting thoughts called obsessions. To try to control the thoughts, one feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors. These are called compulsions.
Obsessions are thoughts that recur and persist despite efforts to ignore or confront them. People with OCD frequently perform tasks, or compulsions, to seek relief from.
Some people with OCD perform compulsive rituals because they unusually feel they have to or act compulsively so as to lessen the anxiety that stems from particular obsessive thoughts.
The obsession provokes a feeling of intense anxiety and distress.
Temporary relief :
The compulsive behavior brings temporary relief from anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety soon return, causing the pattern or cycle to begin again.
OCD is generally caused by a combination of various factors.
Genetics plays a part in some cases of OCD. Though no specific genes have been linked to OCD, there is some evidence that suggests the condition runs in families. A person with OCD is four times more likely to have another family member with the condition compared with someone who does not have OCD.
Brain imaging studies have shown that OCD is due to abnormalities in some parts of their brain, including increased activity and blood flow, and a lack of the brain chemical serotonin. However, it has been seen that brain activity returned to normal after successful treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Serotonin also seems to play a part in OCD. It is a chemical in the brain (neurotransmitter) that transmits information from one brain cell to another. Serotonin is responsible for regulating a number of the body's functions, including mood, anxiety, memory and sleep. It is not known for sure how serotonin contributes to OCD, but people with the condition appear to have decreased levels of the chemical in their brain. Medication that increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, such as certain types of antidepressant, have proven effective in treating the symptoms of OCD.
An important life event such as a bereavement or family break-up may trigger OCD in people who already have a tendency to develop the condition (for example, due to genetic factors). A life event can also affect the course of condition. For example, the death of a loved one may trigger a fear that someone in your family will be harmed. Stress, which can also be caused by life events, seems to make the symptoms of OCD worse. However, stress does not cause OCD on its own.
There have been reports of some children and young people developing OCD after having a severe infection caused by streptococcal bacteria. One theory is that antibodies (infection-fighting proteins) produced by the body react with part of the brain, leading to OCD. The infection itself does not cause OCD, but triggers symptoms in children who are genetically predisposed to the condition. Symptoms of OCD that occur as a result of an infection will usually start quickly (within one to two weeks).
Formal diagnosis may be performed by a psychologist, psychiatrist and any other medical professional. Diagnosis can also be made through Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) rating scale. With these measurements, psychiatric consultation can be more appropriately determined because it has been standardized.
OCD is generally treated with psychotherapy and medication
Psychotherapy: A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy is especially useful for treating OCD. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious or fearful without having obsessive thoughts or acting compulsively. One type of therapy called exposure and response prevention is especially helpful in reducing compulsive behaviors in OCD.
Medication: The most commonly prescribed medications for OCD are anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medications are powerful and there are different types. Many types begin working right away, but they generally should not be taken for long periods.
Complications that obsessive-compulsive disorder may be associated with:
Suicidal thoughts and behavior
Alcohol or substance abuse
Other anxiety disorders
Contact dermatitis from frequent hand washing
Inability to attend work or school
Overall poor quality of life.
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