HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

By Shannon Pierce

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is commonly known as OCD, and is distinguished by a person having obsessions or unreasonable thoughts, leading them to have compulsions to repeat behaviors.  Some with the disorder have either obsessions or compulsions, rather than both simultaneously. These behaviors lead to a vicious cycle of distress and anxiousness, which only leads the person to repeat their obsessions and compulsions more.

Symptoms

Some symptoms include tics, fear of contamination or dirt, an extreme desire to keep things neat and organized, unwanted inappropriate thoughts, or thoughts of harming others or yourself.  Someone with OCD may not want to shake others hands, or they may feel like they forgot to shut the garage door, or they may have thoughts about yelling out obscenities. The compulsion symptoms include washing, cleaning, checking, counting, strict routines, repeating phrases to yourself, and extreme order. These activities are performed to an excessive amount or an excessive degree.

Causes

The causes of OCD are still being studied, but there are various theories as to why someone may have OCD. It could be the result of body changes and changes in the brain, or an increased risk due to family members having the disorder.  A stressful or traumatic situation may trigger symptoms and increase risk.

Diagnosis

You should be diagnosed by a doctor, not by medical websites or online research.  A doctor may do some tests and screenings, as well as a general physical exam. The psychological evaluation may consist of a doctor asking you questions about your experiences and issues. The doctor may also see if you match the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Diagnosis for OCD can be particularly difficult because symptoms can be confused with those of other disorders such as anxiety or schizophrenia.

 

Treatments and drugs

Although there is not a cure for OCD, medication and psychotherapy can help to bring symptoms under control.  Exposure and Response Prevention is a treatment method that includes slowly exposing the patient to their fear or their triggers, and practicing ways to deal with them.  Antidepressants are usually used first for treating OCD, and can include Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft. These drugs may take months for your body to absorb and for you to feel improvement and they must be taken consistently as prescribed by your doctor.  Sometimes, antidepressants are combined with antipsychotic medications to treat the disorder.


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