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OCD

Person playing with lights | Healthier Me TodayOCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a chronic condition characterized by a compulsion to carry out certain actions. While the cause of the condition is unknown, health experts believe that OCD develops when a part of the brain doesn’t respond to serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical compound that nerve cells use to send information to each other.

People with OCD usually have urges that they aren’t able to control. They also have a strong conviction to do things a certain way, even when they don’t want to. Many people with the condition know that their behaviors and thoughts aren’t logical, but they are unable to stop themselves from carrying them out. A survey from the American Depression Association of America (ADAA) shows that over 2.2 million people in the United States have OCD.

Types of OCD

Fear of Contamination:

This type of OCD is characterized by a strong urge to clean one’s self. People with this type of OCD may have a fear of touching objects they believe to be contaminated. This may lead them to do the following:

  • Avoid public areas and crowded places for fear of contracting germs
  • Excessive hand washing, tooth brushing, and cleaning of the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom

Checking:

This is when a person continuously checks for problems. They may also do the following:

  • Examine their body for notable signs of illness
  • Check appliances, door locks, and alarms
  • Constantly check their email

Orderliness:

People with this type of OCD feel a strong urge to arrange things in a unique way.

Hoarding:

This is when one is unable to dispose of used possessions.

Intrusive Thoughts:

This occurs when someone isn’t able to repel unwanted thoughts. The thoughts may be about harming others or themselves.

Symptoms of OCD

People with OCD will either have compulsions or obsessions. There are cases of people who have both. Below is an overview of these symptoms:

Obsessions: These are thoughts that repeatedly go through the mind of people with the condition. They may try to suppress or ignore them, but could still be afraid and think their thoughts may be true. Repressing the thoughts is difficult for many as it results in anxiety.

Compulsions: These are acts that people with OCD continuously engage in to reduce stress. Most people with the condition strongly believe that if they don’t do things in a certain way, bad things will happen.

Diagnosis of OCD

To determine if a patient has OCD, a doctor will look for the following:

  • Presence of compulsions and obsessions that causes anxiety in important settings
  • OCD symptoms that can’t be linked to other health conditions
  • Symptoms of OCD that are a result of drug use

How To Treat OCD

After going through the medical history of a patient and examining their symptoms, health care practitioners may recommend the following:

Medications

  • Fluvoxamine
  • Prozac
  • Escitalopram
  • Paxil
  • Sertraline

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

This is done to change the way a patient feels, thinks, and behaves. CBT treatment is subcategorized into two groups: cognitive therapy and exposure and response prevention (ERP).

How To Manage OCD

Below are some alternative treatments for OCD. Consult your doctor before trying any of them.

  • Kava: This is an herbal medication that helps reduce stress, anxiety, and restlessness. Kava contains kavalactone, a compound that stimulates the secretion of serotonin.
  • St John’s Wort: This is an herb that has anti-depressive properties. This makes it perfect for treating mental health conditions like depression and even OCD.
  • Glycine is an amino acid found in protein-rich foods, like fish. A recent study found that supplementing with glycine can reduce some of the symptoms of OCD.

FAQ

  1. When should I consult a doctor? You should consult with a doctor if the symptoms of the condition are interfering with your daily life. You should also seek medical attention if you are anxious, depressed, feel guilty, or have difficulty sleeping.
  2. Will my OCD improve if I don’t seek medical attention? OCD doesn’t usually go away naturally. If you don’t seek medical attention, you will continue to experience the symptoms associated with the condition.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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