What is Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted and repeated thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). OCD interferes with the person’s daily life, careers and relationships. OCD is ranked as the tenth most disabling illness by the World Health Organization (WHO), Because, OCD affects every part of a person’s life.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms include both obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that repeatedly enter the person’s mind, and he or she can’t control them.
Some common obsessions
- Fear of dirt or germs
- Impulses to shout obscenities in inappropriate situations
- Disgust with bodily waste or fluids
- Fear of thinking evil or sinful thoughts
- Fear of harming a family member or friend
- Need for constant reassurance
- Hair loss or bald spots because of hair pulling
- Replaying pornographic images in your mind
- Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove
OCD compulsions are specific behaviors that people who have OCD try to get rid of distressing feelings by performing them.
Compulsion symptoms and signs may include:
- Counting in certain patterns
- Saving newspapers, mail or containers when they are no longer needed
- Asking for reassurance over and over again
- Hand washing until your skin becomes raw
- Counting to a certain number, over and over
- Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it’s off
There are types of therapy specifically designed for OCD. Nowadays, therapists use the specific CBT technique for OCD is called exposure response prevention.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people recognize irrational, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with rational, positive ones. Goal of cognitive-behavioral therapy is replacing destructive thinking habits with healthy one. In exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapist exposes person repeatedly to an obsession such as touching a trash can, then he or she prevents from hand-washing by patient. This exercise is repeated from mildest issue to most severe. ERP cuts the link between person’s obsessive thoughts and behavior compulsive and reduce fears and anxieties.
Several medicines are available to treat OCD. Antidepressants help increase levels of serotonin, so may be helpful for OCD. These medicines include: clomipramine, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine and fluvoxamine.
Living with OCD
- Learn relaxation and stress management. Stress is a main trigger for the onset of your OCD symptoms. Learn stress management techniques such as relaxation, mediation, yoga and etc.
- Overcoming guilt and shame. The guilt and shame often are associated with OCD. The first step for coping with OCD is overcoming the guilt and shame. In reality, the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are just a problem like any other problem.
- Learn about obsessive-compulsive disorder. Education about your problem helps you deal better with it.
- Be patient with yourself. Overcoming OCD takes time, effort, and patience
- Redefine the obsessive thoughts: your obsessive thought is just symptom, it not reality.
- Don’t fight with obsessive thoughts. Fighting with each thought reinforces that thought. Challenge your obsessive thoughts and replacing rational thoughts, but then gently turn your attention away.
- Use mindfulness technique. Get outside yourself so observe your thoughts in a non-judgmental fashion.