Analyzing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
December 1st, 2017
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be very difficult to deal with and can cause frustration in people’s everyday lives. OCD is chronic and a devastating anxiety disorder that consists of obsessions and compulsions. It is when a person has irresistible, and repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions) that the individual feels the need to repeat over and over again. Obsessions are reoccurring thoughts that are unwanted and images that don’t want to go away which is uncomfortable for the individual. Compulsions are engaging in repetitive behaviours or mental acts. OCD leads to a great deal of anxiety or discomfort to an individual. Many people suffer from this disorder no matter their race, gender or culture. In the United States of America, approximately 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD (Facts about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, 2017).
OCD is considered to be a combination of biological, psychological, social factors that trigger the disorder in an individual at a specific point in time. The actual cause of OCD is not known yet but there are many factors that play a role. Biological factors of OCD can be, structure of the brain, serotonin; meaning what a chemical cell produces, gender and most importantly genetics. According to Pauls (2010), twins and family studies have shown that genetic factors have an importance for evidence to OCD. Also, the research shows functional, neuroimaging, pharmacology and molecular genetic studies proved that it states biochemical/biological factors are important for the manifestation of OCD. However, it is also stated that environmental/cultural factors also influence OCD. Social factors are influences in the social environment that help sustain the disorder (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, 2014). An individual learns how to think and act by observing others. The norms of culture influence an individual’s values and beliefs. This may cause a wide range of functional impairments which has a significant impact on social and occupational life. According to (Fontenelle et al, 2010), patients with OCD frequently report stressful life events including trauma before the start of illness. In regard to factors of OCD, psychological factors may include, memory deficits, confidence in memory, thought suppression, personality traits. According to (Van, 2003), spatial working memory deficits in obsessive compulsive disorder are associated with excessive interaction of medial frontal cortex. In a study, patients with OCD performed poorly at the highest level of task difficulty and engaged the same set of brain regions.
Although there is no definite cause of OCD, there are symptoms to this disorder. OCD symptoms tend to come and go over time, they range from mild to severe. These symptoms include both obsessive and compulsive behaviours. Repetitive unwanted thoughts, fear of contamination, aggressive impulses, persistent sexual thoughts, thoughts that you might be harmed and etc., are signs of obsession behaviour. Constant checking and counting, repetitive cleaning of one or more items, arranging items to face a certain way and etc., are signs of compulsion behaviour. Sufferers of OCD are usually very anxious and emotional, it’s possible to have just obsessive thoughts or just have compulsions but most individuals with OCD experience both. These symptoms interfere with your normal life at work or school and they affect activities and relationships. This disorder can have additional psychiatric disorders concurrently or at some point during their life, this is called comorbidity. According to (Chowdhury, 2016), patients with OCD are at high risk of having comorbid (co-existing) major depression and other anxiety disorders. The study shows that OCD is a highly comorbid disorder in childhood, with up to 80% of affected children meeting diagnostic principles for another mental health disorder. It is commonly another anxiety disorder, depressive disorder or etc.
Since there are so many types of anxiety disorders that have similar symptoms, it is difficult to diagnose OCD and its very highly to have both OCD and another mental disorder. No laboratory tests can identify OCD, majority of mental healthcare professionals use a tool called structured clinical interview to determine if the symptoms of OCD are present within an individual. This interview contains a basic set of questions to guarantee that each patient is interviewed in the same way. There is also a self-screening test you can take to determine if you have any symptoms related with OCD. Usually trained therapists diagnose OCD, these healthcare professionals typically look for if the person has obsessions, compulsive behaviour and etc. A patient will have a physical exam, lab tests and a psychological evaluation before diagnosed with OCD.
However, when an individual is diagnosed with OCD, there are many effective, evidence-based treatments and interventions for this disorder. It is the healthcare professionals job to provide the best possible treatment for the patient. There are some medications to reduce the severity of OCD in an individual, it is classified as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), SRIs (Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors), or SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), the trick is to find the right ones, at the right dosages for you (Treatments for OCD, 2017). Since the early 1970s study has shown that behaviour therapy is the most efficient treatment for most types of OCD, it involves experiencing the fearful situations that trigger the obsession (exposure) and taking steps to prevent the compulsive behaviours or rituals (response prevention). One well-known treatment for OCD is Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which uses two scientifically based techniques to change a person’s behaviour and thoughts: expose and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive therapy (ADAA Treatments for OCD, 2017). It is best to have a support system when undergoing CBT, for instance a family member, friend, spouse. CBT’s are typically conducted at a therapist’s office once a week, they often give the patient exercises to be practiced at home between sessions. As for interventions, they can be administered in the form of individual or group-based therapy. In relation to therapies, they typically consist of medication, psychotherapy or both. According to (“Psychology Works”, 2015), research has shown that 76% of individuals who complete the treatment (13-20 sessions) and interventions will show significant and lasting reductions in their obsessive and compulsive symptoms. There are other treatments that can help with OCD such as; Meditation, herbal remedies, art therapy, massage therapy, exercise and etc.
In conclusion, Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness. It is a state of mind in which a person has constant repetitive intrusive ideas, thoughts, which people with an OCD believe can only be counteracted by certain acts or rituals. These individuals experience obsessions, compulsions or both which can cause a lot of distress. There are various factors such as biological, psychological and social that can play a role to the cause of this disorder. Although there is no cure for OCD, it can successfully be treated with the help of competent healthcare professionals though therapy and medication.
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Chowdhury, M. H., Mullick, M. S., ; Arafat, S. M. (2016, December 14). Clinical Profile and Comorbidity of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder among Children and Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Observation in Bangladesh. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/psychiatry/2016/9029630/
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Fontenelle, L. F., Cocchi, L., Harrison, B. J., Miguel, E. C., ; Torres, A. R. (2011). Role of stressful and traumatic life events in obsessive–compulsive disorder. Neuropsychiatry,1(1), 61-69. doi:10.2217/npy.10.1
Pauls, D. L. (2010, June). The genetics of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a review. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181951/
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. (2014, May 12). Retrieved November 30, 2017, from http://www.spsk12.net/files/2012/03/Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder_Hot-Topic_April-2012.pdf
“Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (January 29, 2015). Canadian Psychological Association. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from http://www.cpa.ca/docs/File/Publications/FactSheets/PsychologyWorksFactSheet_ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder.pdf
Treatments for OCD. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2017, from http://ocdcanada.org/treatments/
Van, N. J., Ramsey, N. F., Jansma, J. M., Denys, D. A., Van, H. J., Westenberg, H. M., ; Kahn, R. S. (2003, December). Spatial working memory deficits in obsessive compulsive disorder. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14683728