Obsessive Compulsive Disorder : the Facts
OCD stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. OCD causes a person to have intrusive thoughts of a frightening nature, which in turn may cause that person to do things repeatedly. For example, he or she might perform certain ‘rituals’ to guard against perceived danger, or might fear the consequence of thoughts (e.g. sexual or racist thoughts) and/or actions (e.g. when bathing a child or driving a car).
Almost everybody has fleeting thoughts of this nature, but most people are able to dismiss them out of hand. OCD is something entirely different. People with OCD simply can’t dismiss such thoughts without support in the form of a treatment plan, and thus find themselves paying undue attention to them. Whilst the condition can adversely affect every aspect of a person’s life, many with OCD can appear to function normally in the eyes of others. In fact, actors, professional sportsmen, company directors and engineers are frequently able to excel in high-powered careers, tolerating the condition in secret.
OCD can be a highly debilitating illness. However, if you are a sufferer of this anxiety based illness then you will be happy to hear that there are a lot of different treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that you could look into. First of all, you should consider the counseling option. This is something that many people will want to avoid when it comes to treatments for OCD. However, it is important to remember that you need to get to the cause of the problem before you can even think about treating the illness itself.
OCD – Symptoms
Anxiety & OCD symptoms can be exceptionally brutal. They can literally stop you in your tracks.Are you able to recognize Anxiety or OCD symptoms? Yes! Do you know where the symptoms actually come from? Most people don’t.
Anxiety symptoms are caused by the anxiety response; they are either direct alterations of bodily systems in preparation for anxiety OR side effects of those changes. For example, during high anxiety, the digestive system is slowed down to divert resources to other parts of the body, the muscles for example. And this can make you feel terrible. Just imagine you’ve just finished a meal, you’re in the middle anxious moment, your food can’t be digested, you start cramping up, feeling nauseous and so one. Yes! Terrible.
Take a look at this chart. I bet you can identify with a few of these symptoms. The following list of anxiety attack symptoms is by no means complete, many people experience a combination of these symptoms, and many people just a handful of them.
|Pins and needles||Numb feelings|
|Blurred or distorted vision||Muscle spasms|
|Tinnitus in ears||Racing heart|
|Stomach and digestive issues||Dry mouth|
|Difficulty swallowing||Numbness in face or head|
|Feeling dreamy||Feeling desperate|
|Depersonalization||Feeling like you are staring|
|Strange taste in mouth||Impotence|
|Shortness of breath||Dizziness|
Is Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders the same thing?
Some conditions have qualities that are very similar to OCD but are often considered to reside outside the condition. Having said that, OCD as a condition could be said to be a ‘spectrum disorder’ so in some sense making a distinction is only of use in clarifying the experience to the person affected. This is also true of many so-called ‘anxiety disorders’. Many of these conditions are most successfully addressed in an OCD treatment plan that is based on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy strategies, tools and techniques. You may be wondering about, or have heard of, the following:
Social anxieties: often referred to as ‘social phobias’, these take shape in the form of an extreme fear of social situations and/or a hyper-awareness of oneself in social situations. As with many anxiety disorders, a person’s internal conversation or ‘self-talk’ can make the condition spiral to the extent that avoidance becomes the eventual antidote to the uncomfortable feelings.
Panic disorders: what are often described as ‘panic attacks’, followed by a chronic fear of having further panic attacks in the future. In a sense, the disorder becomes one of ‘being afraid of fear’ or ‘being anxious about anxiety’.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder: often referred to as BDD, this is the obsessive preoccupation with a perceived but irrational defect in something about one’s own physical appearance. Many describe ‘tingling’ or other physical sensations, and have seen anybody from acupuncturists to neurologists before realising the true origins of their symptoms.
Compulsive Skin Picking: sometimes referred to as CSP, this condition means that a person repetitively picks at one’s own skin to the extent that it is causing noticeable damage. Often this results in behaviors to try to cover up the areas in which the skin has been picked through clothing, etc.
Trichotillomania: this condition, which is often quite observable by others and can thus be distressing, is the act of pulling out one’s own hair with a compulsive and repetitive feel to it.
Olfactory Reference System: known as ORS, this is an irrational but obsessive fear that one’s body smells in a way that is assumed to be offensive to others. “Do my armpits stink?” or “Do I smell like wee?” are common and debilitating fears.
Hypochondriasis: those who suffer from this believe they harbor a serious disease or medical condition in a way that is both obsessive and unfounded. As with BDD, people with this condition have consulted many in seeking an accurate diagnosis of their symptoms.
Some practitioners also consider conditions such as Tourette’s Syndrome and even some types of eating disorders to fall within the spectrum of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If you live outside the London area, you may feel it best to contact a specialist near to you for an in-person consultation.
Therapy – OCD treatment
If you are looking for treatments for OCD and you have already tried the counseling option then there are still plenty of other things that you can try. One thing that has proven to be very successful is cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. These two different types of therapies can be very stressful for the patient, but they have proven to be very effective when it comes to treating things like OCD and other anxiety disorders. This could be something that you could consider as an option for you. Again, if this is not something that you would like to do then there are still many other treatments for OCD that you can explore.
Medication – OCD treatment
One of the most common treatments for OCD is medication. There are several anti-depressants out there at the moment that also have calming properties when used for treating anxiety disorders and OCD. However, it is very important to remember that you need to figure out the underlying thoughts that are causing your obsessive compulsive behavior. This is very important, because although medication may help with the symptoms, you are not dealing with the underlying issue that is causing them. However, medication is an option that could be considered.
Alternative OCD therapy
If you are not interested in any of these treatments for OCD then there is one final thing that you can consider, and that is alternative therapy. There are many alternative therapies out there that have actually proven to be highly effective when it comes to treating things like OCD and anxiety disorders. However, it all depends on the person in question. When it comes to disorders like these it is very important that you treat it as a trial and error process where treatment is concerned. Everybody is different, and what may work for one person may not work for another.