Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Symptoms, Information, Causes and Treatment

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Overview: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common mental health problem, typically characterised by an individual having obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts or worries that repeatedly appear. Compulsions are the subsequent (repetitive) actions that an individual does to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessions. The condition can affect anyone, at any time of life. OCD can seriously interfere with a person’s life, but the good news is that with the correct treatment, OCD can be kept well under control. OCD is often considered as a form of Anxiety.

 

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Symptoms: OCD is normally easily distinguished from other mental health conditions. Those with OCD will normally experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. As mentioned above, obsessions are unwelcome thoughts or worries that repeatedly appear in your mind. Compulsions are the subsequent (repetitive) actions that an individual does to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessions. This generally alleviates the anxiety, though this is usually a temporary reprieve.

 

Causes: The causes of OCD are not exactly known. It is believed that a combination of factors lead to the condition. These could include personality factors (e.g. those considered to be perfectionists are particularly susceptible to developing OCD), life events or family history. It is also believed that many people with OCD have a low level of serotonin in their brain.

 

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Diagnosis: If you believe you are being affected by OCD, it is recommended that you visit your GP. They will be able to make a diagnosis based on a series of questions regarding your condition. It is important, regardless of how ’embarrassing’ you perceive your thoughts or compulsions to be, that you speak truthfully to your GP.

 

Treatment: OCD is a treatable condition. The treatment provided will be dependent on the level of disruption that OCD is causing. In the majority of cases, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will be used. This type of therapy will address the problems being caused by OCD for an individual – and will attempt to help your thought pattern. Some exercises will help put your therapy into practice. Therapy has a very good success rate for OCD, and at the very least will usually help an individual control their symptoms better.

 

However, for those with more severe OCD, or for those who failed to respond to treatment, medication can be prescribed. SSRI Antidepressants are generally prescribed. These can help to stabilise your mind and reduce anxiety. Unfortunately, antidepressants can take up to six weeks for their full effect to be felt. Treatment for OCD can last anywhere from weeks to months.

 

Living With OCD: OCD is a condition that can be very difficult to live with. Those who suffer from OCD will need support from friends and their family. Unfortunately, the severity of OCD isn’t truly appreciated in the wider culture. It is important for friends and family to be understanding, patient, and well-informed. Recovering from OCD can be difficult, but is certainly achievable.

 

Extras: www.ocdactions.org.uk – Information and support regarding OCD.

www.ocduk.org – Charity for those suffering from OCD, includes information regarding local support groups.

 

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