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What is OCD?

OCD stands for obsessive compulsive disorder and it is characterizedas an anxiety type of disorder which involves unwanted and uncontrollablethoughts accompanied by ritualized and repetitive behaviors that the patientfeels compelled to perform over and over again. These thoughts and behaviorsare irrational but the person who experiences them just cannot resist them.This is why this medical condition can present a rather big problem in thedaily lives of its sufferers. People who suffer from obsessive compulsivedisorder often tend to feel helpless and isolated which only makes thingsworse. The good thing is that there are various treatment methods which can beof great help for all those who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder.

Statistical Data

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a relatively common medicalcondition and according to certain statistics there are 2.3 percent of adultpersons who suffer from it. There are more than 3.3 million people in the UnitedStates who are affected by this medical condition. Obsessive compulsivedisorder may affect people from all different ethnic groups, it may affectindividuals from all different age groups and it may also be important tostress out that it affects men and women equally. In males the typicallyreported age of onset is between 6 and 15 years of age, while in females theusual age of onset is somewhere between 20 and 29 years of age.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD

Some cases of obsessive compulsive disorders may involveonly obsessions, some may involve only compulsions, while there are also caseswhich involve both of these. The most common types of obsessive thoughtsassociated with OCD include excessive attention to something considered luckyor unlucky, superstitions, order and symmetry, fear of losing or not havingthings that one might need, excessive focus on religious or moral ideas,intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images, fear of causingharm to oneself or others and fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt. Themost common types of compulsive behaviors associated with those who suffer fromOCD include accumulating different types of junk, praying excessively orengaging in religious rituals, ordering or arranging things for no particularreason, spending a lot of time cleaning and washing, counting, tapping,repeating certain words, repeatedly checking on loved ones and excessive doublechecking of things. Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder are much harderto notice and discern because they may often seem like symptoms of othermedical conditions such as Tourette’s syndrome, autism or ADD.

Obsessions and Compulsions

In order to have a better understanding of this medicalcondition, one needs to be well informed on the nature of obsessions andcompulsions. Obsessions are uncontrollable types of impulses, images orthoughts which have a repetitive pattern. These are often distracting anddisturbing, but the sufferer usually just cannot shake them off. Compulsions are repetitive types of behaviorsthat a person feels compelled to perform. They often occur in order to get ridof obsessions. Unfortunately,compulsions usually only make things worse because obsessions tend to reoccurwith even higher intensity. People who suffer from OCD can be divided intodifferent categories.

Hoarders are afraid of throwing things away because theything that something bad may happen then. Counters and arrangers are known forbeing obsessed with symmetry and order and they often have superstitionsconcerning arrangements, colors and numbers. Doubters and sinners are afraid of terriblepunishment if they do not do everything perfectly. Checkers always check thingsmultiple times because they associate it all with danger and harm. Washers arethe type of people who are obsessed with being clean and they are always afraidof contamination.

Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

There are numerous different ways of dealing with obsessivecompulsive disorder but the most common one and the most effective one isdefinitely cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy may sometimesbe accompanied by antidepressants. Thistherapy has two main components. The first component involves repeated exposureto the sources of one’s obsession. After the exposure the patient needs torefrain from the compulsive behavior which commonly occurs. Anxiety responseprevention gradually leads to vanishing of the compulsions. The secondcomponent of cognitive behavioral therapy for persons who suffer from obsessivecompulsive disorder focuses on teaching effective and healthy ways ofresponding to various different types of obsessive thoughts without the needfor compulsive behavior as a reaction. Family therapy is highly beneficial forthose who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder because it may be of greathelp in reducing family conflicts, promoting a better understanding of thedisorder and motivating the family members to help their loved ones. Grouptherapy is also very helpful because a person who interacts with other OCDsufferers gets the much needed encouragement and support.

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