OCD

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

https://nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions). Although people with OCD may know that their thoughts and behavior don’t make sense, they are often unable to stop their urges.
Symptoms typically begin during childhood, the teenage years or young adulthood, although males often develop them at a younger age than females. 1.2% of U.S. adults experience OCD each year.

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Symptoms

Examples of obsessions include:
• Thoughts about harming or having harmed someone
• Doubts about having done something right, like turning off the stove or locking a door
• Unpleasant sexual images
• Fears of saying or shouting inappropriate things in public

Compulsions are repetitive acts that temporarily relieve the stress brought on by an obsession. People with these disorders know that these rituals don’t make sense but feel they must perform them. Like obsessions, people may try not to perform compulsive acts but feel forced to do so to relieve anxiety.

Examples of compulsions include:
• Hand washing due to a fear of germs
• Counting and recounting money because a person can’t be sure they added correctly
• Checking to see if a door is locked or the stove is off
• “Mental checking” that goes with intrusive thoughts is also a form of compulsion

Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Causes
The exact cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder is unknown, but researchers believe that activity in several portions of the brain is responsible. Genetics are thought to be very important. If you, your parent or a sibling, have OCD, there’s around a 25% chance that another immediate family member will have it.

Diagnosis
A doctor or mental health care professional will make a diagnosis of OCD. A general physical with blood tests is recommended to make sure the symptoms are not caused by illicit drugs, medications, another mental illness, or by a general medical condition. The sudden appearance of symptoms in children or older people merits a thorough medical evaluation to ensure that another illness is not causing of these symptoms.

To be diagnosed with OCD, a person must have:
• Obsessions, compulsions or both
• Obsessions or compulsions that are upsetting and cause difficulty with work, relationships, other parts of life and typically last for at least an hour each day

Treatment
A typical treatment plan will often include both therapy and medications, and combined treatment is usually best.

Related Conditions

Related Conditions
There are related conditions that share some characteristics with OCD but are considered separate conditions.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder –  This disorder is characterized by an obsession with physical appearance. Unlike simple vanity, BDD is characterized by obsessing over one’s appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. Any perceived flaws cause significant distress and ultimately impede on the person’s ability to function. In some extreme cases, BDD can lead to bodily injury either due to infection because of skin picking, excessive exercise, or from having unnecessary surgical procedures to change one’s appearance.

Hoarding Disorder – This disorder is defined by the drive to collect a large amount of useless or valueless items, coupled with extreme distress at the idea of throwing anything away. Over time, this situation can render a space unhealthy or dangerous to be in. Hoarding disorder can negatively impact someone emotionally, physically, socially and financially, and often leads to distress and disability. In addition, many hoarders cannot see that their actions are potentially harmful, and so may resist diagnosis or treatment.

Trichotillomania – Many people develop unhealthy habits such as nail biting or teeth grinding, especially during periods of high stress. Trichotillomania, however, is the compulsive urge to pull out (and possibly eat) your own hair, including eyelashes and eyebrows. Some people may consciously pull out their hair, while others may not even be aware that they are doing it. Trichotillomania can create serious injuries, such as repetitive motion injury in the arm or hand, or, if the hair is repeatedly swallowed, the formation of hairballs in the stomach, which can be life threatening if left untreated. A similar illness is excoriation disorder, which is the compulsive urge to scratch or pick at the skin.