What is obsessive compulsive disorder exactly?

OCD is the abbreviation for obsessive compulsive disorder. This is a psychological disorder that is difficult for those who suffer from the condition. Imagine lying in bed, mind working at full speed with eyes wide open, unable to sleep. You are worried about something that happened earlier that day. You play the scene over and over in your head but you can’t beat the fear. There is no rational reason for the anxiety.

This anxiety disorder causes people to experience disturbing obsessions and use compulsive behaviors in an effort to find relief from the fear. These compulsive behaviors can give the sufferer a feeling of control over their fears.

People who are experiencing OCD often feel as if no one else understands what they are feeling or suffering. But others do understand. Psychiatrists estimate that about 1 in 50 adolescents and adults have an obsessive compulsive disorder.
 


 
Interestingly, OCD is found in higher numbers in those people who haven’t graduated from high school and those who have graduated from college with a degree versus those who only have some college background. The disorder also usually begins in the late teens to mid-twenties in both sexes.
 
Some of these obsessions can take the form of intrusive thoughts or urges that are sexually related, fear of germs, moral or religious doubt and the urge to tell, ask or confess to others. These obsessions feel as if there is no escape. Everything reminds the individual of the obsession – television, magazines, advertising, and conversations. There will always be a ‘but’ to the conversation the individual holds with himself proving him wrong when he’s right.
 
Another aspect to OCD include being unable to throw things away, known as hoarding. Other disorders including hair pulling, body dysmorphic disorder (falsely believing one is ugly) and skin picking are also OCD disorders.
 
People with OCD will compulsively check that the door is locked, think they ran over something with their car and must go back and check, or compulsively touch all objects they pass. Many who suffer from OCD also suffer from depression from the frustration and hopelessness they experience as a result of the disease.
 

 
Some children are more vulnerable to developing OCD as a result of a Streptococcal infection (strep throat). In these children the antibodies mobilized to kill the strep mistakenly identify the basal ganglia as a foreign body and attack them. The basal ganglia is a part of the brain that helps to control motor movement. When the ganglia becomes inflamed an autoimmune response happens and the body recognizes its own body as foreign resulting in OCD type behavior. OCD that is related to strep throat has a sudden and earlier onset than OCD that happens to adolescents and young adults.
 
We hope this articles gives you a clearer picture on what OCD is and how to recognize some of the symptoms. Do you have any OCD-related habits? If so, we’d love to hear about them and if you are able to manage them on a day-to-day basis. Just use the comment box below. Also, for additional information on OCD, have a look at the resources below. Until next time.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

International OCD Foundation: Cognitive Behavior Therapy
HelpGuide: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD Center of Los Angeles: CBT for OCD and Anxiety
MayoClinic: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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