Here's everything else you need to know about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive disorder is a mental illness characterized by intrusive and repetitive thoughts that cause the patient to repeat their actions continuously. These actions are performed in an attempt to stop the flow of intrusive thoughts or the anxiety generated by them.
The obsessions can be powerful and can manifest in behaviors that will appear strange to the outsider. Some of the behaviors can include repeated washing of hands, repeatedly flipping the switch to an appliance or continually checking on the door locks. In many cases, these obsessive behaviors pose a direct obstacle to the person’s quality of life.
Symptoms of OCD
What are obsessions?
Obsessions vary for every patient; for some, it could be disturbing thoughts about natural calamities. For others, it could present itself in the form of insecurities in relationships, or it could be counting and recounting the number of switches in the room, or bottles in the fridge, or the number of stairs. Obsessions cause anxiety in patients, thereby forcing them to perform certain activities as a measure of relief.
There are several kinds of obsessions, some of the common ones are:
- Being aware and trying to control the number of inhalations and exhalations in a minute
- Being aware and trying to control the number of times one blinks in a minute
- Doubting partners for adultery without any valid reasons
- Washing hands whenever there is contact with a doorknob, handle, or any other object.
- Extreme fear that loved ones will be a victim of a natural calamity, virus attack, or illness
- Fear of leaving house, car, or office unprotected
- Intense ideas which include suicide and murder
- Imagining scenarios where the patient is a victim of genocide or is participating in creating one.
- An obsession with perfection or symmetry
- Being extremely clean and hatred for anyone who does not meet the hygiene standards
- Obsessions can hamper a person’s ability to maintain personal or professional relations.
These obsessive thoughts can cause severe mental distress and acting on these thoughts seem to relieve them temporarily. However, they take up an inordinate amount of time and interfere with the person’s everyday life.
What are compulsions?
These are physical and mental actions that the person suffering from OCD feels inclined to do in a certain way to justify the obsession. The most common forms of compulsive actions are:
- Hoarding: Patients suffering from OCD may often feel that a threat to their way of life is imminent and that they should be prepared to survive for prolonged durations without access to essentials. With this obsessive thought, they tend to hoard things to prepare for such doomsday scenarios.
- Excessive washing: The act of excessively washing hands to remain ‘germ-free’ is an act of compulsion. This action, however, is driven by the anxiety of catching any bacterial or viral infection.
- Excessive fear of sharp objects: Keeping sharp objects like knives and forks locked in a drawer might hurt the patient or their loved ones in any way. This act is to relieve an underlying thought and a heightened sense of responsibility that makes them obsessed with protecting their loved ones.
- Prayer: In a few cases, patients suffering from this condition believe that specific thoughts or feelings in their heads are neutralized by performing a series of mental rituals. The rituals often include attempts such as offerings to the god, reciting a certain set of words, and similar superstitious activities.
OCD signs and symptoms
The commonly Observed Obsessive-Compulsive disorder symptoms are:
- The urge to get everything done right or perfectionism.
- Keeping the house clean and spending an inordinate amount of time repeating the process.
- Constantly washing hands with soap to remain germ-free
- Trying to achieve perfect symmetry when arranging things around you in daily life and getting flustered when that said symmetry becomes difficult to achieve/maintain.
- Counting: In this, patients generally find themselves counting the number of tiles in the house or the number of stairs in the fleet, or the number of bulbs in the house. In cases, when they lose count, they tend to start over again.
- Being over-protective: Patients tend to exhibit protective behavior with themselves and with their close ones. They tend to keep any household item that could become a potential threat locked in a drawer.
Causes of OCD
Researchers around the world have spent countless hours trying to understand the root cause of this issue and are yet to ascertain the cause. However, medical doctors and researchers have narrowed down a list of possible factors that could cause this. These include neurobiological factors, pregnancy, stress, genetic factors, or environmental catalysts that can occur at any point of time in a person’s life as an effect of certain events.
Certain auto-immune conditions are also linked to OCD among infants. OCD can be the body’s response to a PANDAS (Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal) Infection.
Chemical imbalance is also a possible cause of OCD. The brain produces a neurochemical called Serotonin that helps in sending electrical impulses from the brain to other parts of the body, stimulates anxiety, and helps sleep. Most medications recommended for OCD have heightened levels of serotonin present in them. Thus, a possible chemical imbalance in the patient may increase the risk of OCD.
Genetic factors also play a major role. Studies in a few cases show that it is four times more likely that a person suffering from this condition has a family member with the same condition.
Stress at work or stress from strict parenting can contribute to this condition. There are no conclusive studies that show that stress causes OCD; however, it can trigger the onset of an existing dormant condition.
Types of OCD
The two major types of OCD are covert and overt kind.
People suffering from overt OCD often act on their obsessive thoughts in forms that are physical and visible to others. Overt actions include excessively washing hands, trying to attain perfect symmetry, being spotlessly clean, and arranging things in a certain way. This type is straightforward and can prompt others to seek help for them.
Covert compulsions also termed cognitive compulsions are those that compel the patient to perform certain mental actions to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Covert OCD does not present any physical symptoms and thus could lead the patient to believe that the occurrences of these instances are only stimulated due to the surroundings and situation and not due to an underlying condition.
Covert compulsions sometimes mask a condition called Pure O compulsive disorder. In this, the patients believe that these obsessions and compulsions only manifest in their minds and that their impact does not reflect in the real world or affect their personal lives in any way.
On the contrary, studies on Pure O OCD show that patients suffering from this condition present both mental and physical symptoms. This condition can be very dangerous if left untreated.
Diagnosis of OCD
An OCD diagnosis should only be made by a trained medical professional who is an OCD psychiatrist or therapist. This condition is sensitive, and self-diagnosing the condition can be dangerous.
There is great research available on the internet that one could use to understand the condition and learn more, but self-diagnosing can do a lot more harm than good.
Pointers that help medical practitioners diagnose OCD are:
- The patient is aware of certain mental/physical activities they feel compelled to do
- If said activities are time-consuming and hinder the person’s daily productivity
- If a person is washing their hands too much
- If a person is always keeping their things in a clean and in a systematic order
- If a person consciously counts the number of lights in a room or the number of books on a shelf etc.
- OCD Treatment and Management
- OCD is a chronic disorder and lack of proper treatment can often lead to a relapse. However, OCD treatment cost isn’t on the higher side for routine counseling sessions, but repetitive treatment or severe symptoms can require long-term care.
Treatment of OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment and management of OCD are largely categorized into 2 layers. The first layer is recommended for those who have just been diagnosed with the condition, and a specific combination of psychotherapy and medication can help treat the condition and manage the regressive compulsions.
The second layer is when the doctor recommends an intensive approach when Outpatient methods are not effective.
The 1st layer of treatment includes:
This is a form of OCD Treatment because it helps relieve any compulsions and obsessions. Some of the effective psychological treatments for OCD include- Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Exposure, and Response Prevention.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy:
This can be a very powerful tool in suppressing negative thoughts by talking to a trained therapist over a prolonged period of time, spread across] sessions. In this treatment, conversations, coupled with meditative mind-controlling exercises, are used to curb obsessive thoughts.
It is done to reduce the chances of relapse in the medication regime, come up with means to deal with certain emotions, cope with stress, cope with the loss of a loved one, and manage chronic symptoms, among others.
Exposure and response treatments:
ERP therapy is conducted with the help of an OCD specialist in India. It’s designed to help the patient control their anxiety episodes, especially if they are triggering any obsessive thoughts. ERP treatments act on compulsions to identify triggers and reduce any anxiety episodes. With consistent therapy sessions and practice, anxiety levels will decrease and help the patient feel better. This is a cognitive treatment that will expose you to situations that trigger your OCD. The exposure is quite gradual, and it will help you cope with a situation and teach you how to handle it. ERP therapy can be done one on one, or in group therapy. It will help you deal with your OCD triggers.
Sometimes, the patient is advised to take up practices that stimulate body composure like yoga, massages, and breathing exercises. Medication has proven positive results for OCD anxiety treatment. Medications generally involve the use of certain antidepressants to trigger the production of certain neurochemicals that help regulate the anxiety caused by obsessions.
If you have any OCD symptoms, then you have to visit an OCD specialist in India, they will help you find the best OCD treatment in India and manage your condition effectively.
Rehabilitation for OCD
Residential programs are voluntary programs where patients reside in mental medical facilities for their duration of medical treatments. During this period, they visit designated Intensive Medication units for treatment. Further, if patients pose a threat to their own health or to those around them. The patient will be treated at a supervised facility where their health will be monitored throughout to ensure they don’t self-harm or cause harm to others.