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What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by intrusive thoughts that are repetitive and can cause the patient to do the same actions, repeatedly. These actions are performed in an attempt to stop the thoughts or the anxiety/ discomfort generated by the thoughts.

Obsessions can be powerful. Sometimes, it can be manifest as washing hands multiple times in short intervals or trying to power off electrical appliances by clicking the switch a particular number of times, or continually checking if the doors are locked. This obsessive behavior can pose a threat to the quality of life of the individual. 

People suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders feel compelled to do specific tasks. These are called compulsions. These acts of compulsions offer temporary relief to the anxiety that the patient is feeling, at the moment. 

Some of the best treatments for OCD include psychotherapy, guided therapy, and counseling sessions that allow patients suffering from OCD to learn how to manage the condition and learn to reduce the occurrence and severity of such compulsive episodes.

There are multiple treatment options for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and the percentage of people who have received an OCD cure after undergoing treatment is high.

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 their 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 example 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 as it might hurt the patient or their loved ones in any way. This act is to relive an underlying thought and a heightened sense of responsibility that makes them obsessed about protecting their loved ones.

Prayer: 

In a few cases, patients suffering from this condition believe that specific thoughts or feelings in their head 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 Types:

The two major types of OCD are covert and overt kind. 

Overt OCD: 

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, arranging things in a certain way.

This type is straightforward and can prompt others to seek help for them..

Covert:

Covert compulsions also termed as 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.

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.

Hoarding: Hoarding is a symptom of OCD. In this, the patient is driven by the urge to stock up essential and non-essential items for future use. This is driven by a thought that everything would get exhausted and he/she would not be left with any.

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. 

How can OCD affect my life?

OCD is treatable, and when left untreated can cause devastating damage to the person suffering from the condition. Studies show that in all of the affected cases, more than 50% are severe, and the percentage  of mild cases is as low as 25%.

The effects of OCD can be traumatic from a physical and psychological standpoint. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can hamper a person’s ability to maintain a personal relationship, a steady career, education, ability to start a family, access to one’s own children, interpersonal relationships, mental stress, and fear of intimacy, and more.

The obsessive-compulsive disorder causes excessive strain on the eyes, blood, brain, and skin. In a few cases, when the patients are able to hide their condition with their loved ones, the suppression often exhibits in the form of marital disputes, divorce, and irrational thoughts that the partner is not loyal.

What causes OCD?

Researchers around the world have spent countless hours trying to understand the root cause of this situation 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, stimulate anxiety, and help sleep. Most medications recommended for OCD have heightened levels of serotonin present in them. Thus, a possible chemical imbalance in the patient may increase risk of OCD.

Genetic factors also play a major role. Studies in a few cases show that it is four times 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.

OCD Diagnosis:

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 a certain mental/physical activities they feel compelled to do
  • If said activities are time-consuming and hinder in 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.

If you are looking for solutions on how to get rid of OCD, then this might help:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment and management of OCD are largely categorized in 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:

Cognitive Behaviour 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. 

In a few cases, patients coping with this condition are prescribed OCD depression medication.

OCD Medication:

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’s anxiety treatment. Medications generally involve the use of certain antidepressants to trigger the produce of certain neurochemicals that help regulate the anxiety caused by obsessions. 

Psychotherapy:

This is a form of OCD Treatment because it helps relieve any compulsions and obsessions. Some of the effective psychology treatments are for OCD include- Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Exposure, and Response Prevention.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: As mentioned before, this is an effective OCD treatment in India. OCD is a vicious cycle that includes compulsions, anxiety, obsessions, and relief. The CBT treatment provides the patient with tools that help them think, act, and react to triggers and negative thoughts that result in obsessive actions. The goal of CBT psychotherapy is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. You can find CBT therapy as the best OCD treatment in India at reputed rehab centers.

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.

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.

The 2nd layer of treatment includes:

Outpatient programs:

The outpatient program includes several visits with a doctor. Depending on the severity, the frequency of the visit ranges between 2 times a week to several days per week. These intensive treatment programs are recommended by doctors as an early treatment.

Day programs:

Day programs can either have the patient visit a regular hospital for intensive treatment programs or have them voluntarily spend time in a mental health hospital to get treated.

These are also called partial hospitalization programs.

Residential programs:

Residential programs are voluntary programs where patients reside in mental medical facilities for their duration of medical treatments. In this duration, they visit designated Intensive Medication units for treatment.

Inpatient:

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.

Living with OCD: How to help yourself

The first step to living with OCD is acknowledging the condition and working towards it. 

Identify your triggers:

Certain stimulants or situations trigger obsessive thoughts in patients and identifying these stimulants and controlling these obsessive thoughts is necessary to progress. 

Challenge your obsessions:

Obsessive thoughts are intrusive, and they can spark fear in the patient’s mind. The next time you feel these thoughts, accept that the fear is present but do not give in to these impulses. Try to challenge them with rational thoughts and positive self-talk. 

Learn coping strategies

Stress and OCD go hand in hand. There are a variety of coping mechanisms one can try to manage the condition. They include aerobic exercises, travel, meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, indulging in physical activities, and seeking medical treatments.

Make lifestyle changes

Making minor lifestyle changes can help manage the condition to a great extent. The inclusion of healthy fruits and vegetables, along with a weekly regime of exercise goes a long way. Taking comfort in discussing the problem with a friend or a family member helps relieve the stress and can help in a speedy recovery.

How can family help?

Family support can go a long way in helping the patient manage the symptoms of OCD. Family members can normalize certain compulsive actions, and this helps in curbing avoidance behaviour. For example, if a patient is washing hands, wash hands along with them. If they are counting the number of stairs, count along with them and if they are cleaning the house, give them a hand. 

This reassurance helps them stay connected with the family and seek guidance and advice if they experience something grave or unusual to their normal compulsions. It also helps family members have more empathy for the compulsive behaviors and understand that their loved one is not doing these actions out of spite or malice. 

The most important thing that family members can do is convince their loved one to seek treatment. OCD is very much manageable and through a combination of therapy, medication, and support, the patient can live a very normal and functional life. 

If you’re looking out for treatment for OCD in India, visit Cadabams. It’s one of the best OCD treatment centres across the nation where you get timely treatment under expert supervision. Reach out to us on our 24/7 helpline at +91 96111 94949 or mail us on info@cadabams.org for any queries or support.

Why Cadabams?

At Cadabam’s, we strive to help people with OCD to lead a normal life. Our expert team of doctors, counsellors, and psychotherapists tirelessly work towards helping you recover and take charge of your life. We have successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated the most complex cases of OCD and personality disorders over the last two decades.

Luxurious Living

At Cadabams, we provide clean, modern, fully furnished accommodations with all the necessary creature comforts.

Modern Amenities

Kitchen and dining hall, laundry facilities, indoor games area, yoga and meditation hall, outdoor games area for cricket, badminton, Round the clock psychiatrist and counsellor support, 24×7 ambulance on demand.

Healthy Cuisine

Our everyday menu is curated by Dieticians aimed at providing healthy and nutritious and tasty meals to satisfy everyone’s palate.

Entertainment Options

Recreation facilities such as TV, sports, gym, picnics and outings and more.

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Things to do to reduce anxiety (compulsions)

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