Have you every felt the need to repeat tasks? Or focus solely on what you’ve already done and if it’s done perfectly? What about having a need to keep things organized a certain way and if not, you feel uneasy and even have a sense of panic? If you’ve answered yes to these questions then you may be experiencing symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; otherwise known as OCD.
It’s estimated that one in 40 adults and one in 100 school-aged children struggle with OCD but many don’t seek treatment for various reasons. Some may feel embarrassed, worried of what people would say, or scared of asking for help. There are others that may not even realize that they have a problem. Some call themselves perfectionists but in reality this behavior is beyond setting a high standard for oneself or wanting to reach a goal.
This article contains some questions and answers about OCD as well as things that can help you recognize the symptoms and treatment options available.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? OCD is the fourth most common psychiatric disorder. Depression, drug addiction and phobias rank first. The OCD patients have excessive worries, superstitious beliefs, doubts, and panic. These differ from the normal day to day cares and concerns. A problem or thought that would usually take a few minutes to handle can stretch out an entire day for the person that struggles with OCD.
What are the symptoms? Since not everyone is the same, not every patient exhibits the same behavioral symptoms. But the common are fear of contamination, fear of safety, extreme doubt, aggressive thoughts, and being meticulous.
What is the difference between compulsions and obsessions when it comes to OCD? Even though the person doesn’t want to have them, they have tthoughts, images, and urges that happen constantly and make them feel out of control. They sometimes have persistent fears of having accidentally hurt someone else even though they know that it isn’t true. Obsessions go hand in hand with uncomfortable feelings like fear, disgust, doubt, or a sense that things have to be done in a certain way that is just right or perfect. Otherwise they have to repeat the task over and over. They worry extremely about dirt and germs and become obsessed that they are contaminated or might contaminate others. When people have obsessions they “do” things to prevent or help take control of the situation. An example of that would be if the person is obsessing about getting sick or contaminating them self, they’ll wash excessively. Some do so to the point where their skin is chapped and can bleed. If they’re obsessing over their safety they may check the locks of their homes over and over just to make sure that it is impossible for someone to come in. If they fear what can happen if they go outside they may start or completely avoid having to leave their home.
Are there different types of OCD or other conditions related? There are two areas of OCD. The most common area is rituals that the person performs and the other is hair pulling, muscle tics, and even vocal outbursts.
Who does it affect? OCD can affect male and female, any religion, and any social class.
Is a patient with OCD susceptible to other illnesses? Not necessarily other “illnesses or diseases”but there are things that can happen because of OCD. For example; obsessive and fearful thoughts can be stressful and therefore cause the person to be run down in their energy levels. The person with OCD may experience depression because they want to “be cured” but they can’t. Marriages may suffer because the spouse doesn’t understand why the patient does what he/she does. And a person may suffer economically because their disorder caused them the loss of a job.
Is it hereditary? Although there hasn’t been specific genes identified, they may play a role in developing the disorder. For example, a child may be obsessed with irrational thoughts while the father may lock the doors continually.
How early or by what age is it diagnosed? Studies show that children as early as 5 years old start showing symptoms of OCD but some patients don’t develop symptoms or aren’t diagnosed until the age of 7-12 years old.
Will the child with OCD have to go to a special school? Not all children are required to attend a special school or take special education classes. They can be capable of keeping up with the grade appropriate curriculum. However, parents and teachers should work together so the child can advance in their education and so that the teacher and parent can help foster this growth. The more knowledge the teacher has about the child’s OCD the easier it will be to lead that child in the classroom.
Is OCD life threatening? Although OCD isn’t life threatening it can have an effect on relationships, career, and overall quality of life.
Are there support groups for families? Support groups are held in many different places. Local churches, schools, and the internet have discussion groups and forums.
How can I get diagnosed? There isn’t a blood or medical test that can be done by a regular physician. Seeking the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist is usually your best bet. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), which is a questionnaire about obsessions and compulsions, is commonly used among professionals to make a diagnosis.
Is there treatment? Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a term used for different types of psychotherapy treatments. Treatment varies for each patient so seeking the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist is beneficial.
Are there medications? There are medications that are used to treat OCD but because there is no cure it’s just an aide in helping the disorder. It’s important that a doctor’s diagnosis includes a physical exam with your regular primary care physician so that the appropriate medication can be prescribed. There are also herbal supplements being used by some patients such as St. Johns Wort that in some cases have proved to be beneficial.
There is no cure for OCD but many organizations are doing research into whether or not this disorder can be prevented and how treatments can be advanced. There are hundreds of grant opportunities on the web that will assist educational facilities in this area. These are not only beneficial to the medical professional but it is also helpful for educational facilities.
This is only a small amount of information regarding OCD. If you or someone that you know is concerned with this disorder or may feel as if they have this disorder it’s important to seek the help of a mental health professional. Self diagnosis isn’t always accurate so having a doctor determine the symptoms of concern is the only way to confirm the disorder and seek treatment and support. A person with OCD may have many challenges but they can also live a life of happiness and peace with treatment and support from loved ones.