In essence an anxiety disorder, OCD causes patients to fixate on small things in life that others might dismiss. Anything from germophobia to task repetition or even physical tics may result from an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The Truth About OCD

The cliche of OCD is that all patients are neat-freaks who keep very tidy homes. Being fastidious or liking to clean is not the same as an OCD and it is important that people learn the distinction between the two. Otherwise, those who need help may not seek it out or may feel belittled by stereotype.

The Diagnostic Criteria

OCD shares a specific diagnostic criterion with most other mental disorders– the symptomatic behaviors must interfere with the patient’s quality of life. OCD sufferers may spend so much time obsessing over certain things that they end up being late for work or even missing work outright, as an example. These scenarios, too, cause extreme distress for the patient, further exacerbating the condition and obsessions.

Types of Obsessive Thinking in OCD

Someone with an OCD fixates on things that are of little importance to others and can develop elaborate tasks around these things. As an example, a patient might feel compelled to turn a light switch on and off a specific numbers of time before leaving a room. If the task is not executed exactly, the patient may then experience stress, anxiety, and even panic attacks.

Fixations are not limited to settings or circumstances, either. Some OCD patients can become fixated on scenarios involving a loved one. They do not need evidence; they will simply become fixated on a notion that, as an example, a spouse is cheating. Additional obsessive patterns in OCD patients include putting things in order, avoiding certain colors, and fixating on the safety of children and family. The stakes are always high for the OCD patient– if a task is not completed, the patient believes terrible things will happen.

Symptoms of OCD

  • Obsessive thinking
  • Uncontrolled thinking
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Engaging in ritualistic tasks
  • Hoarding
  • Feeling guilt over fixations
  • Panic attacks
  • Bad dreams

Treating OCD

As with other mental health issues, patients may receive medication, therapy, or some combination therein when seeking treatment for OCD. Patients should work with their mental health professionals to find the right mix.

Therapy treatments include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • ERP therapy
  • Individual therapy sessions
  • Group therapy sessions

Patients may also benefit from mixing individual sessions with group therapy.

A form of CBT, Exposure Response Prevention therapy involves patients engaging their OCD triggers in careful and controlled ways. Therapists aid the patients in developing behavioral changes and healthier responses to OCD triggers.

Medication options for OCD include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Fluvoxamine

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