What Is Obsessive-compulsive Disorder and How Is It Treated?
For some people, living with obsessions is a very real thing that affects their life in many ways. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder — more commonly referred to as OCD — have been diagnosed with a condition that causes them to think unwanted thoughts and deal with persistent feelings and fears. Doctors call these thoughts, feelings, and fears that people with OCD can’t stop thinking about obsessions.
These obsessions lead to feelings of anxiety. To deal with their obsessions and anxiety, people with OCD often engage in repetitious behaviors, known as compulsions or rituals. Although these compulsive behaviors seem unnecessary to others, people with OCD believe these rituals can prevent bad things from happening, thereby relieving anxiety and fear.
Common obsessions include thoughts about the following: getting sick, getting hurt, dying, making mistakes, breaking rules, getting dirty, and behaving badly. Obsessions can also involve worrying about whether things are even, straight, or arranged in a specific manner.
To relieve these obsessions, people with OCD may engage in the following types of compulsive behaviors: straightening, putting things in a specific order, counting, repeating words and phrases, washing, cleaning, checking on something, and repeating or re-doing things over and over again.
Scientists don’t know for sure what causes OCD. They believe there are genetic links. Some scientists believe that OCD may result from certain infections or differences in brain structures. OCD affects a wide variety of people, including kids.
If you notice someone exhibiting signs of battling obsessions or engaging in compulsive behaviors, encourage them to seek help from a professional. Meeting with a psychologist or psychiatrist who can carefully evaluate behavior is usually necessary to diagnose OCD.
While there is no cure for OCD, it can be treated with medicine and therapy. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to teach those with OCD how to face their fears and resist engaging in compulsive behavior.