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Definition of OCD

OCD stands for obsessive compulsive disorder. It is one ofthe many anxiety disorders known to modern medicine and science and it commonlyinvolves intrusive thoughts associated with worry, fear, apprehension anduneasiness and it may also involve repetitive types of behaviors which existsimply to reduce those intrusive thoughts. Some cases of this medical conditionmay involve a combination of obsessions and compulsions at the same time. The mostcommon symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder include variousdifferent types of nervous rituals, aversions to particular numbers,preoccupation with religious, violent or sexual thoughts, extreme hoarding,repeated double checking of things and excessive cleaning or washing. Thesesymptoms may cause a lot of emotional problems and they may prevent the personfrom functioning normally on a daily basis. Eventually, this may end up inpsychotic and paranoid acts.


Obsessive common disorder is one of the most common mentaldisorders. It is the fourth most common one in the United States, as there aremore 2.2 million American citizens affected by OCD each year. There may even bemore cases, because a large number of people tend to endure the disorder foryears before finally seeking professional help. A person may have seriousproblems in life because of OCD because the condition may affect his or herfinancial independence, employment status, level of education and the overallquality of life. People from all different ethnic groups and all different agegroups may be affected by it. Obsessive compulsive disorder affects men andwomen equally. The total costs of OCD each year add up to approximately 6percent of costs for all mental illnesses.

Causes of OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder is commonly triggered by avast array of different types of biological and psychological factors. Psychologicalfactors may be related to certain evolutionary advantage, but only in moderatecases of obsessive compulsive disorder. As far as biological factors go,scientists believe that obsessive compulsive disorder may be associated withcertain abnormalities with a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Certain geneticmutations of the gene which is responsible for the transportation of theaforementioned neurotransmitter may also be associated with the development ofobsessive compulsive disorder. Certain cases of obsessive compulsive disorderin children may be triggered by group A streptococcal infection.

Obsessions and Compulsions

Obsessions are certain types of intrusive thoughts whichtend to reoccur in a repetitive pattern and even though the person affected isfully aware that they are completely irrational, he or she cannot shake themoff. Compulsions are repetitive types of behavior which occur in people whosuffer from obsessive compulsive disorder as a reaction to anxiety triggered bythe aforementioned obsessions. There are certain cases of obsessive compulsive disorderwhich do not include any overt compulsions and these cases are commonlyreferred to as purely obsessional OCD. People who suffer from OCD can bedivided into several different categories. There are washers who are constantlyobsessed by cleanliness and they are constantly afraid that they might getcontaminated or that they might contaminate other people. There are also peoplewho are referred to as checkers, as they are known for always checking thingsas locks, open windows, and such multiple times as they are constantly obsessedwith harm or danger. There are also those who can be referred to as sinners anddoubters because they constantly tend to do everything perfectly simply becausethey are afraid that otherwise they will be punished severely. Counters andarrangers are those who simply need to find order and symmetry in everythingthat surrounds them. These people are also known for constantly having varioussuperstitions associated with specific numbers, colors and particulararrangements. The last group of people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorderare hoarders. These people are characterized by being very afraid of throwingthings away because they believe that doing so may cause certain bad things tohappen to them.

Diagnosis of OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorders may be formally diagnosed bya clinical social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist or any other licensedmental health professional. A person diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disordersuffers from obsessions, compulsions or both. Fortunately enough, obsessivecompulsive disorder may be treated by utilizing certain methods. The mostcommonly used method for the treatment of OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy.This type of therapy consists of two main types of components and in some casesit may be accompanied by certain types of prescription antidepressants. Thefirst component of the therapy requires the patient to be repeatedly exposed tothe sources of his or her obsessions and then gradually learn how to refrainfrom compulsions which occur as reactions to anxiety. The second component ofcognitive behavioral therapy is based on the healthy and effective ways ofresponding to obsessive thoughts. Family therapy and group therapy are also highlyrecommended.

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