Symptoms of OCD
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For a person with obsessive compulsive disorder, overwhelming, unwanted compulsions are tied to obsessive behaviors, like ritualistic counting. Recognizing OCD is the first step to getting help. Here's a primer.
Transcript: Stress is part of life. So are routines. With OCD, a type of anxiety disorder, normal concerns and habits...
Stress is part of life. So are routines. With OCD, a type of anxiety disorder, normal concerns and habits are pushed aside by unwanted thoughts, which compel a person compulsively to perform rituals to make the thoughts go away. The first step toward diagnosis - and, ultimately, getting help - is understanding OCD's symptoms, which are each affected person's unique obsessions and the compulsive behaviors that result. Obsessions are uncontrollable fears, irrational impulses, and persistent, unwanted thoughts that occupy the mind of a person affected by OCD. These obsessions typically center on themes, like fear of contamination, harm or losing control; perfectionism, unwanted sexual thoughts, and excessive preoccupation with morality and/or religion, also called scrupulosity. Compulsions, which are the persistent repetitive actions by people with OCD, are usually performed according to "rules" that their minds tell them will make everything okay. A person with OCD may constantly scrub household areas, recheck that tasks are performed correctly - like making sure the burglar alarm is on - repeat activities according to a "safe" number, or continually rearrange items to be sure they're "right." The difference between typical concerns about illness or finances, and habits like bedtime rituals or "cleaning day," is that the anxiety is temporary and the routines typically flexible. For people with OCD, constant anxiety and necessary rituals interfere with daily living. Unfortunately, most people with OCD remain undiagnosed for years. One reason for this is that OCD sufferers often hide their behaviors, fearing embarrassment, ridicule or discrimination. Others simply don't think of their behavior in terms of a treatable illness. If you - or someone you know - is affected by OCD, it's important to realize that there's no shame in seeking help. In fact, talking to a family doctor or a mental health professional is a positive step toward regaining control of one's daily life. There are several components to an accurate diagnosis of OCD including a thorough psychological, medical and family history, as well as a discussion of specific symptoms and behavior patterns. Diagnosing OCD involves meeting the criteria published by the American Psychiatric Association - including experiencing obsessions or compulsions that significantly interfere with one's daily routine, and realizing they're excessive or unreasonable. The clinician also confirms that the obsessions are intrusive, persistent thoughts that cause distress and can't be suppressed - and that the compulsive, repetitive behaviors are an effort to prevent anxiety about unrealistic obsessions. Symptoms of OCD are the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors meeting the American Psychiatric Association's criteria. And once diagnosed, there are treatments that can help. For concerns about OCD, consult a mental health professional.More »
Last Modified: 2013-11-22 | Tags »
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Soccer star David Beckham and Oscar-nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio - both have obsessive compulsive disorder. What other A-list stars share this mental illness? Check out this slideshow to find out.
Last Modified: 2011-10-25 | Tags »
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What is OCD? It stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Learn more about OCD and how to identify the signs.
Transcript: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. People who have OCD continually have unwanted,...
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. People who have OCD continually have unwanted, overpowering thoughts (obsessions) that drive them to compulsive actions in an effort to make those thoughts go away. Anxiety is part of life. Everyone has worries and doubts at times. But, anxiety can actually help keep us alert and ready to react quickly when needed. The difference between typical concerns about illness or finances, and habits like bedtime rituals or "cleaning day," is that the anxiety is temporary and the routines typically flexible. For people with OCD, constant anxiety and necessary rituals interfere with daily living. People with OCD become obsessed with their thoughts and fears. Driven to banish those troubling thoughts, they compulsively perform the same rituals again and again. Most people with OCD realize that their actions are unreasonable, but they can't stop. And trying to ignore their thoughts and stop their rituals only increases their anxiety. Common obsessions include: fear of germs or losing control, excessive concerns with precise order or throwing something away, doubts about completing tasks perfectly, and aggressive or inappropriate thoughts. People with OCD may repeatedly scrub household areas, constantly check that the stove is off or the alarm system on, accumulate useless items, or endlessly rearrange cupboards, shelves and closets. Other compulsive rituals include: washing hands repeatedly, often until they're raw; being unable to stop repeating phrases or activities; and plucking hair from the head, body, eyelashes or eyebrows. Ultimately, these rituals can interfere with the ability to function at work or school, and with family or friends. OCD was once thought to be a result of life experiences. But research NOW points to a genetic link involving distinctive brain structure patterns that can cause problems in information processing. OCD can appear in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, but the average age of onset is about 19. It exists fairly equally between men and women, and among various races and socioeconomic backgrounds. For children and adolescents, OCD can make completing homework and household chores especially difficult - and lead to self-esteem issues, as OCD sufferers are likely aware that they're "different." People with OCD may also develop additional anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety or a phobia. Eating disorders or depression may occur as well. Unfortunately, turning to substance abuse is not uncommon for OCD sufferers. Studies suggest that about 25 percent of people with OCD use alcohol or drugs to cope with their symptoms. People with OCD often become prisoners of their obsessions and compulsions, often trying to hide their actions, fearing embarrassment or ridicule. But OCD is treatable with professional help! Thanks to research, OCD is better understood - and there are treatments that can help. If you - or someone you know - is affected by OCD, consult a mental health professional.More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-01 | Tags »
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Cognitive behavior therapy is an effective form of OCD treatment. Watch this video for more on OCD treatment options.
Transcript: Successful treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) varies according to each person's unique...
Successful treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) varies according to each person's unique obsessions and compulsive behaviors. But with ongoing treatment - typically involving behavioral therapy, medication, or both - most people can realize long-term relief from their symptoms. For most people with OCD, the first step toward treatment is visiting a family doctor to discuss the various symptoms that are causing distress, along with assessing the presence of any other anxiety disorder or medical condition. If OCD is suspected, the doctor will suggest a mental health provider who can provide insight about treatment options. Studies show that a strong bond between therapist and patient is essential to successful treatment outcomes. So choosing a therapist should take into account mutual levels of comfort, confidence - and commitment to the treatment process. Most therapists use behavioral therapies, medication - or combine the two, which has proved to be the most effective approach for treating OCD. Some patients respond to treatment within months, while others may need longer for their symptoms to improve. The most common behavioral therapy for OCD is Cognitive Behavior Therapy, CBT. With CBT, patients are helped to confront their fears and reduce their anxiety through exposure and response prevention exercises, while refraining from the compulsive behaviors. This type of therapy calls for the patient to list feared situations or objects. The objective is to reduce anxiety by having patients gradually face each obsession directly, beginning with obsessions that produce the least anxiety, until all fears are confronted. Medication is also effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of OCD symptoms - and in helping increase a patient's comfort level with behavioral therapy. The majority of the drugs used to treat OCD are antidepressants, which help boost the brain's serotonin levels. Antidepressants approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating OCD include: Anafranil, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Studies show that OCD patients who respond to cognitive behavior therapy often report a 60-80% reduction in symptoms, while those responding to medication typically report a 40-60% reduction. Of patients who receive combined medication and behavioral therapy, approximately 70-80% show symptom improvement. Many OCD patients find support groups and stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation or the natural calming effects of exercise - especially helpful in the recovery process. Family support is vital as well. In most cases, OCD can be successfully treated with behavioral therapy and medication, but choosing the right therapist is key. For help with OCD, consult your doctor or a mental health professional.More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-01 | Tags »
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