A Comprehensive Guide: what is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD is a mental disorder that features unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to repetitive and compulsive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities, cause significant distress, and can be debilitating.
If you’re experiencing OCD symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.
Who Gets Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect anyone at any age, but it typically starts during the teenage years or early adulthood. It is estimated that women and men have an almost equal prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorders, but women tend to experience these disorders earlier and with more obsessions relating to food and weight than their male counterparts.
Some people may be more likely to develop obsessive-compulsive disorder because of their genes, brain chemistry, and life experiences.
But what triggers OCD in one person may not cause it in another. Family history is a risk factor, but it’s not destiny. People that are sensitive and with strong imagination capabilities are more prone to develop OCD.
What I mean by sensitivity is that people who are more easily affected by different situations may be more likely to develop OCD because they think and feel things more intensely than other people.
Feel things more intensely can of course be a gift, but at the same time, it can become a cures for the OCD sufferer.
A neuropsychiatric disorder can also be at play; this is when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. Sometimes, this disorder can affect the brain and other parts of the nervous system, causing symptoms like OCD.
Autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders
Treatment for autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders often involves a combination of medication and therapies that address triggers for immune system overactivity.
IVIG, or intravenous immunoglobulin, is a treatment that involves the infusion of antibodies into patients. The antibodies are isolated from the blood plasma of healthy donors and reduce inflammation by preventing cell destruction. They may also help the body produce new cells.
The symptoms are obsessions and compulsions; Obsessions are thoughts, images, or urges that enter a person’s mind against their will and cause distress. Compulsions; are behaviors or rituals that a person feels they must do in order to relieve the anxiety caused by their obsessions.
-Unwanted thoughts and images. These can often be violent and/or sexual in nature (such as harming oneself or others but are more common to be related to fears of being responsible for something.
-Having to repeat actions a certain number of times in order to be safe or feel right. This includes closing and opening doors, locking or unlocking locks, turning on and off appliances, turning on and off lights, doing things in a certain order, etc
-Mental review – repeatedly reviewing past events and conversations in an effort to “catch” the bad thought and prove it wrong. This compulsion can be so time-consuming that, as with physical compulsions, it prevents sufferers from living a normal life.
The most disturbing compulsions are often the mental ones. These terrorizing thoughts can be horrific and repeat inside the sufferer’s head, making them feel terrible about themselves. One example is “Pure O,” which involves intrusive sexual thoughts taboo thoughts, and anything else that goes against a person’s moral code.
OCD goes beyond its symptoms and has a profoundly negative effect on a person’s daily life and relationships with others. OCD is all too often misunderstood as being mere hand-washing or an obsessive need to have things organized. Although these are common compulsions carried out by people with OCD, they are just the tip of the iceberg. While hand-washing and organization are very common, they are not necessarily the compulsions that most people with OCD carry out.
Treatment options for OCD
Then it´s time for (ERP) exposure and response prevention, it´s a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves gradually exposing you to the situations that make you anxious while teaching you skills to help you face your fears without having to react with compulsive behaviors.
ERP repeatedly provokes a response, and when there is no compulsion the anxiety and urge to do your compulsive behavior will start to decrease. ERP helps you gradually face your fears instead of avoiding them. This can be difficult, but it’s the only way to overcome it.
After successful treatment with ERP, you can move on to another type of cognitive-behavioral therapy called cognitive restructuring. In this form of therapy, a therapist helps you identify and change the thinking patterns that lead to your compulsive behavior.
Remember, for some OCD is a chronic disorder that you have to learn to live with, just like an addict learns to live with their addiction. OCD is very related to addiction, both with compulsions and faulty thinking patterns.
For the addict to remain sober they need to work on the steps and live a life that prevents them from falling back into old habits.
This means living healthy, with sporty activities, nutritional food, decreasing stress, and having something meaningful to do in your life.
You can learn not to let OCD control your life by accepting it, living with it, and learning strategies to manage the symptoms. When this is done correctly you are on your OCD recovery journey for a better life.
For severe cases and treatment-resistant there are other options:
TMS — a treatment in which a doctor directs an electromagnet to stimulate nerve cells in the brain — has been shown to help to reduce OCD symptoms.
Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation or Deep TMS for short is a non-invasive treatment that works by stimulating your brain with magnetic fields. This helps to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.
Deep TMS is a form of brain stimulation that uses magnetic fields to induce currents in the brain for therapeutic benefit.
Deep brain stimulation — surgery that involves implanting electrodes into your brain to help regulate faulty nerve impulses — is a potential treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The electrodes are connected to a battery pack that’s worn under your skin. The stimulator sends electrical pulses to the brain, which help block the abnormal nerve impulses that cause the obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This surgery is usually reserved for people who haven’t responded well to other treatments or who have a severe form of OCD.
The best tip for OCD sufferers is to accept and live with the uncertainty. Once you accept the uncertainty, you will find that the anxiety will slowly dissipate. It sounds so easy, and yes, it is; at the same time, it can feel like jumping out from an airplane without knowing 100% if the parachute will open or not. It’s not until you fully accept the uncertainty your recovery journey can start.
Mindfulness for OCD
When you’re mindful, you’re not so caught up in your thoughts that you lose sight of what’s happening around you. This can be helpful when you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts or urges.
Mindfulness may not cure, but it can help you manage your symptoms and deal with the stress that comes with them. There are many ways to learn mindfulness, including meditation classes, books, and audio recordings.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. The best treatment plan for you will depend on your symptoms and how severe they are.
If you’re struggling with OCD symptoms, it’s important to get help. Don’t try to tough it out on your own — there is hope.
OCD Types and themes
OCD is all too often misunderstood as being mere hand-washing or an obsessive need to have things organized. Although these are common compulsions carried out by people with OCD, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Whilst hand-washing and organization are very common, they are not necessarily the compulsions that most people with OCD carry out. Some compulsions may be mental or behavioral.
For example, some sufferers count when walking down the street, others hoard trivial items such as bottle tops, and others repeat phrases silently in their heads.
The most difficult to deal with are often the mental ones. These can be horrific sexual or violent thoughts that repeat inside a sufferer’s head, making them feel terrible about themselves.
One example is “Pure O” which involves intrusive sexual thoughts, taboo thoughts, and anything else that generally goes against a person’s moral code. In an effort to try and lessen the anxiety brought about by these horrible thoughts, they will engage in compulsions such as prayer or mental reviewing.
You can dig deeper into each theme so you better understand them. In general, the mechanism in OCD is all the same. It does not matter what type of theme you have. The symptoms are all the same as well as treatments.
Some people may feel like they are “the only one” who experiences these thoughts or fears, but this is not the case. OCD is very common, and you don’t need to have OCD to have wired and horrific thoughts. Horrific and wired thoughts affect everyone. The only difference with “everyone” is, that they can let go of the thought OCD sufferers tend to be stuck. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that help is available.
If you think that you or a loved one may be struggling with OCD, please seek help from a mental health professional. There is no shame in getting help, treatment can make a huge difference in your life.
Here are the most common types of OCD thems:
Checking OCD is not checking as a normal routine- it’s a disorder that causes someone to obsessively check over something over and over again. For example, checking every light switch or appliance in the home over and over again because of fear of something terrible will happen if this is not done in the correct manner.
-False Memory OCD
Harm OCD involves intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or others. These thoughts can be very disturbing and may cause a great deal of anxiety. Sufferers may worry that they will become violent and hurt someone, while others may obsess over potentially deadly accidents or scenarios.
Hoarding OCD is a type that involves the persistent need to hoard items. Sufferers may feel like they need to save every item, no matter how useless it is. They may also have difficulty getting rid of any possessions, even if they don’t need them.
-“Just Right” OCD
-Magical Thinking OCD
-Purely Obsessional OCD (Pure-O)
-Real Events OCD
Is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder in which the sufferer feels that they must recount past events in order to make sure that it happened or that they didn’t imagine it. Real Event OCD can also be triggered by conversations with others. A sufferer might be obsessing about a conversation they had earlier in the day and feel as though they need to clarify every detail of that conversation again, even if it happened hours or days ago.
-Relationship OCD (R-OCD)
Also known as ROCD a type of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that can affect people in different ways. If you have Relationship OCD, you may have persistent thoughts that tell you your partner isn’t right for you or is cheating on you even when this is not true.
-Scrupulosity (Religious) OCD
A common form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that affects how individuals perceive their relationship with God. Sufferers experience unwanted and obsessive thoughts about offending God, committing sins, or displeasing their religious figures.
-Sexual Orientation OCD (SO-OCD)
The sufferer has intrusive thoughts about sex. These thoughts can be about anything from having inappropriate contact with someone, to being sexually attracted to children or animals. People with SO-OCD may worry about their sexual orientation or have intrusive thoughts about sex. They may feel the need to repeatedly check their genitals for signs of arousal or perform rituals (such as counting or praying). They might also worry about being attracted to people of the same sex.
Suicidal obsessions can be a symptom of harm OCD or suicidal thoughts. In these cases, people who do not want to die have unwanted and intrusive images in their heads that they try not to think about at all costs.
The obsessions of counting OCD are recurrent, persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate, causing marked anxiety or distress. Symptoms can often be bizarre, such as thoughts of an entire row of houses being crushed because the number 7 was thought about.
It’s very common to have more than one type of OCD, you might have Harm OCD, counting OCD and magical thinking OCD, etc. The important thing is not how many OCD types you have, the important thing is to learn how to deal with each and accept the thoughts for what they are, just thoughts nothing more nothing less.
How is each theme treated?
While each subtype may be categorized by different themes, they all entail the same underlying mechanisms and involve cycles of obsession and compulsions.
ERP therapy is the gold standard in treatment for OCD. ERP involves exposing individuals to the situations that trigger their obsessions and compulsions, while they prevent themselves from engaging in their usual compulsions.
It’s important to have a support system of family and friends who understand what you’re going through. You may also want to seek out professional help from a therapist who specializes in obsessive-compulsive disorder. There are also many self-help books and websites that can be helpful.
It’s important to remember that obsessive-compulsive disorder is not your fault. It’s not something that you chose or caused. You are not alone in this. Millions of people around the world suffer from this condition, and there is help available. With patience and perseverance, you can overcome and live a happy, healthy life.
How can I tell if someone has OCD?
Mental counting can be hard to detect, but there are other clues that can help you spot the obsessive-compulsive disorder.
For example, people may be very particular about how things must be done and may seem unable to relax. They may also excessively wash their hands or clean their homes.
If someone you know seems to fit this description, it’s important not to judge them. OCD is a real and serious disorder that can be very debilitating. The best thing you can do is offer your support.
If you’re not sure whether someone has OCD, it’s best to consult a mental health professional. They will be able to make a diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment.
The importance of seeking treatment for OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a very debilitating illness that may significantly decrease an individual’s quality of life if left untreated. Unfortunately, many people go undiagnosed and untreated for years. This is largely due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
It’s important to seek treatment if you think you may have it. Treatment can be very effective and can help you get your life back on track. There are many different types of therapy available, so don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about what may work best for you.
Not all respond to treatment. Some may have “treatment-resistant” OCD that doesn’t improve even after trying multiple therapies and medicines.
If you’re struggling with treatment-resistant OCD, don’t give up hope. There are still options available, your doctor may recommend trying a different type of SSRIs or SNRIs and/or tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotic medicines like Risperdal, Abilify, or Zyprexa are sometimes used.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is another treatment for OCD in which electrodes are implanted into the brain, much like a heart pacemaker.
There is hope for those living with treatment-resistant OCD. You can overcome your disorder and live a happy, healthy life with the proper treatment and the right mindset it is possible.
There is Hope for OCD sufferers
With the right treatment and support, you can overcome this disorder and leave healthy, happy lives. If you or someone you know is living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, please seek professional help. There are many different types of therapies available.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Your therapist will work with you to find the best treatment plan for you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help – it can make all the difference.
Resources – find help
-International OCD Foundation: iocdf.org
Behind every successful individual is an entire team working tirelessly to help them achieve their goals. The IOCDF provides resources and programs throughout the year for those affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as family members or professionals in mental health services who work with these individuals every day.
-National Institute of Mental Health: nimh.nih.gov
The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
-OCD Action: ocdaction.org.uk
This UK-based charity provides support for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and their families, as well as raises awareness of the condition among the general public.
-OCD UK: ocduk.org
This charity provides support for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as their families and carers, raise awareness of OCD within society, offers advice to sufferers on managing symptoms through self-help techniques. They also work closely with professionals involved in treating mental health conditions affecting children and young people.
-Anxiety and Depression Association of America: adaa.org
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting mental health and preventing suicide. ADAA provides information on anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and more disorders than any other association in America.