Network / newlifeoutlook / healthscene

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Symptoms and treatment of OCD

The longer a person suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), the more difficult it is to treat. OCD is an anxiety disorder, and symptoms are displayed as an urge to complete a ritual after the passing of a particular occurrence. For instance, one may feel the urge to wash one's hands whenever one touches an item of clothing. He or she likely knows that clothes are not dirty, but intrusive thoughts will urge washing anyways. Rituals are often nonsensical and time consuming.

Other types of typical compulsions are counting and the urge to double-check locks or appliances repeatedly. Symmetry is another: if one snaps one's left fingers, the right ones must also be snapped to even things out. Those with a similar issue called anankastic personality disorder (or obsessive compulsive personality disorder) feel stressed without extreme perfection. Everything must be a strict "right way" or it will be considered unacceptable.

It will not help if someone tells a sufferer to "get over it" or explains that rituals change nothing. No matter what the individual symptoms, obsessive compulsive disorder is not a matter of logic. Sufferers cannot be reasoned out of it. Most know that their rituals have no realistic effect on their obsessions. Nevertheless, they feel the impulse of repeated thoughts and stress until they complete their rituals.

Cognitive Dissonance

The human brain is so complex that it doesn't always agree with itself. When one logical part of the mind communicates that washing changes nothing, but the other whispers, "Wash or you will be dirty," this is called cognitive dissonance. The stress that leads to such thoughts is caused by a chemical imbalance. When the occurrence that one is obsessed with passes, one's body stops releasing a chemical called serotonin. This causes the kind of fight-or-flight reaction someone may feel during a panic attack. This is extremely stressful for the sufferer, who has driving thoughts of a senseless compulsion that will lead to relief.

OCD Treatment

Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medicine for severe OCD. However, behavioral therapy should be tried as treatment first. The trick with behavioral therapy is to start small and work up gradually. If a person feels to urge to count to 10 after every step, he or she should not count after one step for a week. The next week, two steps should lack the ritual, and so on. It helps sufferers to find something soothing because of the stress they will experience during treatment, which should not be forced.

The stress and possibility of relapse are too much for some. Those are the people who accept their disorder, and the best thing others can do for them is to cooperate until they are ready to seek treatment.

Mental HealthYou're not alone.We are building our Anxiety community.Join Now