Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a medical condition associated with an anxiety disorder, characterized by repetitive and persistent thoughts or actions. These actions and thoughts appear distractive and senseless and they are extremely difficult to resist. This disease exists slightly more in women, than men.

People with OCD find themselves absorbed by various mental images of rituals – for example, checking again and again to make sure that the iron has been turned off or repeatedly washing their hands. The diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder is made only if these actions or repetitive thoughts persist so much time that they interfere with normal functioning or cause significant distress. It is still a mystery as far as what causes OCD.

About 50% of people with OCD show symptoms by the age of 15. Recent research shows that there are overlaps between eating disorders and obsess ional symptoms. The risk of getting this disease increases in family members of people who have the disease. The major symptoms of OCD are recurrent ideas or behaviors that are unwanted and may appear pointless. People with OCD usually have a good sense of reality and readily admit that their compulsions and obsessions are absurd, irrational, or superstitious. They are unable to stop themselves from yielding to these impulses however, and become so completely absorbed in the obsession or compulsion that they think of nothing else until they have finished. If they are forcibly interrupted from completing their thought or behavior, they usually experience considerable anxiety.

Many people with obsessive compulsive disorder respond well to anti-depressants or other drug therapy, in most cases in combination with cognitive or other forms of behavioral psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also very helpful, using an exposure/response prevention technique in which the person is exposed to experiences of which she is fearful and is prevented from performing her habitual compulsive rituals following those experiences. With therapist’s help, this approach teaches people to tolerate their anxiety and to accept the fact that their compulsive rituals are unnecessary.


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