Obsessive-compulsive disorder happens to rank as the 10th most prevalent disorder that causes disability and the fourth in mental health disorders.
Most of us have probably heard the term OCD, which stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is often used as slang such as, “I’ve alphabetized all of my books; I must have OCD.” While alphabetizing all of your books might be a sign of OCD, it’s not the sum of all its parts. Obsessive-compulsive disorder happens to rank as the 10th most prevalent disorder that causes disability (this includes both physical and mental) and the fourth in mental health disorders. It happens to up to 3 percent of adults and even more so in children at 1 in every 200.
Here is more about OCD. What it is, what kinds of symptoms it causes, who gets it, and the treatment options.
According to Psychology Today:
The first thing we can do is better understand what it is. The International OCD Foundation describes OCD as an anxiety disorder in which people become stuck in a cycle of obsessions (“unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings”) and compulsions (“behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress”).
You may have heard of people who have to wash their hands a certain number of times or someone who has to have every item in a drawer in the perfect order. These are just a few of the telltale signs but there’s more to this disorder than just a few quirks someone has.
It is being trapped in a hyper-aroused state where there is danger everywhere – even when there isn’t. These compulsive acts work to relieve anxiety. A person with OCD may feel that things aren’t right and they must perform certain actions to make them so. While most people may experience an intrusive thought, those without OCD tend to dismiss these thoughts.
As stated by Beyond OCD:
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health examined DNA, and the results suggest that OCD and certain related psychiatric disorders may be associated with an uncommon mutation of the human serotonin transporter gene (hSERT). People with severe OCD symptoms may have a second variation in the same gene.
This is just one contributing factor. The truth is, no one knows the exact cause. Research shows that obsessive-compulsive disorder has a myriad of contributing factors. These include genetics, environmental factors, neurobiological, cognitive, and behavioral. Any of these factors may be the trigger that helps with the onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
There are five categories of obsessive-compulsive disorder. These include the following:
In this type of OCD, the person keeps things they do not need thinking that something bad will happen if they do not. They may not throw away trash or allow things to pile up. This type of OCD is also related to other mental health disorders like depression, ADHD, PTSD, and more.
This type is indicative of those who must wash their hands compulsively or make sure they are clean due to thinking they will be contaminated.
This type of OCD is where a person is obsessed with symmetry and order. In some cases the person will have superstitions about certain types of arrangements, numbers, or colors.
It may seem like a funny title but in this case, it’s not. A person with this form will have fear that if things are not perfect, they will be punished. Or in some cases, they feel that something tragic will happen to them if things are not in order.
Most people will have a fear that they left something on during a trip or didn’t bring the right thing. That is normal. Yet, those with this type of obsessive control disorder do this repeatedly. They may lock a door 10 times or check that the oven is off over and over.
Not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may have a combination of these sub-symptoms. All of these affect a person’s way of life. No one wants to drive home numerous times to check the locks or wash their hands till the skin becomes cracked and bleeding. Yet, those with OCD cannot help their behaviors without a proper treatment plan.
As mentioned previously, this is a prevalent mental health disorder. It is interesting to note that boys are more likely to develop this disorder before puberty than girls. They are also more likely to have tics with their OCD.
Some children as young as 2-years-old have shown to have OCD symptoms. But the good news is that therapy has a high success rate – as much as 70 percent in children.
The most effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy. This involves two techniques based in science to help the person change their thoughts and behaviors. These two techniques are exposure and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive therapy.
Cognitive therapy involves helping someone find healthier ways to respond to obsessive thoughts. Individual therapy helps patients and sometimes group or family therapy is conducive to healing.
Exposure and response prevention is another form of treatment helpful with those who have obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this type of therapy, the patient has repeated exposure to their fear. For example, if they are a constant hand washer, they might have to go without washing their hands after touching a public restroom door handle. This may cause great anxiety at first but it does start to lessen over time.
Some medications may be helpful for those with OCD but it is not a singular aid in “curing” this mental health disorder.
At Transformations, we realize that everyone is an individual and a one-fix kind of treatment plan won’t do. Instead, we combine the treatments that work best for the individual. If you or someone you care about is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, there is help available. Simply contact us so we can get started on changing you or your loved one’s life.