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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Unfolding The Truth

Overview

OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is a complicated yet very common condition that is often misunderstood and misused. The term OCD is a medical term that is in use since the 20th century. Initially, people used to think of it as “scrupulosity”. Scrupulosity is a psychological disorder that is characterized by pathological guilt and obsession linked with moral and religious issues. Various Research Organizations in Michigan are conducting Clinical Trials that may be of help to people with diagnosed OCD.

What Happens In OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder follows a pattern of undesirable thoughts and fears or obsessions. It refers to repetitive behaviors that take a toll on your mental health as well. These obsessions and the urge to fix them (compulsions) hinder daily life activities to a great extent. It, moreover, leads to delays in routine work. 

You might take a step to suppress or dismiss your obsessions, but doing so only makes you feel more upset and anxious. In the end, you get compelled to engage in obsessive behaviors to reduce your stress. Despite attempts to stop or ignore unwanted thoughts or urges, they linger. This feeds the OCD cycle, which results in more ritualistic behavior.

OCD oftentimes revolves around certain themes, such as an obsessive fear of acquiring germs. You may wash your hands overly until they are sore and chapped as a measure to alleviate your anxieties about infection.

Themes Of OCD

There are different types of OCD themes:

Contamination: Having the urge to wash hands is one thing, which is normal. However, in OCD, it is excessive hand washing until it feels right. This leads to them washing their hands until their hands bleed and look raw and cracked when the bleeding ceases. It is because of the fear of contamination, people take hours long, in scorching hot showers every morning and evening to clean up. As they have little power over other people, these people frequently feel as though they cannot go any place in public. These people can experience panic attacks just by thinking about door handles, public restrooms, or shaking hands with strangers.

Harm: 

Harmful thoughts frequently include plans to harm a loved one, anxiety over slicing someone with a steak knife and worry over dropping a child from a balcony. Even frightening, OCD gives you the impression that it’s only a matter of time before one of these blatant crimes is committed. People who are having trouble controlling their emotions tend to stay away from anything that might even vaguely resemble a weapon or the person their thoughts are aimed towards. Even when preparing dinner, they avoid cutting up the vegetables. A continuous horror reel plays in their heads and they can’t stop visualizing causing harm to the person they love the most.

Just Right: 

People who have this obsession with getting things done in a perfect manner fall into this category. They need to feel satisfied with whatever they do, and for that, they would go to any extent. This feeling stalls one’s daily routine just to get the ‘right’ vibe.

Relationship:

Those who go through this could discover that they are recurrently and relentlessly questioning themselves and their partner about how solid and valuable their connection is. People may confess to their partner after feeling bad about their uncertainty in the relationship.

Order and Symmetry:

People with order and symmetry OCD are extremely particular regarding the arrangement of things. If they see things out of order or place, their anxiety levels spike through the roof. They often get dreams indicating that something bad will happen if they do not maintain order or symmetry. They are well aware of their irrational thinking and they still can not manage but abide by the rules governed by their OCD. 

Perfectionism:

When someone has perfection OCD, it probably feels successful at first, but then it becomes crippling. The “all-or-nothing” mentality is severely exacerbated by perfectionism. Either way, accomplishing the task at hand perfectly and without any mistakes in sight needs checking after checking, rewriting, rereading, and redoing. Even if it takes countless hours, nothing ever feels perfect.

Diagnosis Of OCD

For OCD, there is no specialized test. Symptoms are used to make the diagnosis. It is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. OCD is diagnosed using criteria from the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition).

According to DSM-5 criteria, OCD can be identified by these particular elements:

  • The person has obsessions, compulsions, or both.
  • The obsessions or compulsions take up a lot of time (more than an hour per day).
  • Compulsions or obsessions can be upsetting or get in the way of daily activities like socializing, working, or doing tasks.
  • The symptoms are not caused by drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, or any other illness.
  • No other form of mental disorder can explain the symptoms.

Treatment of OCD

It is generally observed that with appropriate and timely management, people with OCD experience an increased quality of life and tend to live a healthy and better life.

Some of the treatment options for OCD include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This is also called exposure and response therapy. In CBT, people are exposed to feared situations or images that target their obsessions. Initially, the focus is to target mild or moderate symptoms as it leads to increased anxiety. During the procedure, the individuals are instructed to avoid compulsions (preventive response). In this way, they learn that their fears are just thoughts and nothing else. This helps them cope with their fears and compulsions.
  • Medication: Selective Serotonin Inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective in the treatment of OCD. The dosage is higher than that used to treat depression. It takes six to twelve weeks for improvement to be observed. 
  • Neurosurgical Treatment: Gamma Ventral Capsulotomy is considered to be effective in people with severe OCD who do not usually respond to typical treatments. Other than that, deep brain stimulation is a device that is implanted in the brain and produces better results.

Takeaway

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a debilitating condition that can disrupt and disturb a person’s life. Although there is no sure-shot treatment for OCD with a timely diagnosis, treatments can help manage the condition and live a better life. It is very important to take care of your mental health in the process as OCD does take a toll on your mental capabilities. Consulting Clinical Research Organizations that are running OCD Clinical Trials may also help in understanding and managing the condition in the long run.