Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) refers to a mental illness characterized by a constant stream of preoccupied thoughts and apprehensions, often illogical and exaggerated, termed obsessions, that leads to a person performing a repeated sequence of actions, called as compulsions.
Currently, around 3 percent of the world’s population is affected by OCD and it is in fact, a major underlying reason for mental disability and a public health burden, both in developed and developing nations alike.
If an individual with a certain obsession with hygiene attempts to curtail the number of times they wash their hands in a week, it invariably leads to anxiety and worry. Hence, to overcome this obsession, they ultimately resort to the compulsion and sanitize their hands too often, sometimes even causing rough patches and peeling of skin. Also Read: Anxiety Attacks? Here’s How You Deal With It
The exact cause of this mental disorder has not yet been determined, but certain biological or chemical modifications in the brain, genetic aberrations and environmental pathogens are considered to be the main reasons for OCD.
People with a family history of this disease, who are stressed out, or suffering from other mental ailments such as anxiety or depression are prone to developing OCD right from childhood or even as adults. Also Read: Depression: How To Recognise The Signs & Deal With It
OCD can often give rise to sub-optimal productivity at work, suicidal tendencies, strained relationships, embarrassing situations or even health issues like contact dermatitis from excessive scrubbing. Hence, it is advised to promptly consult a psychologist or a mental health professional, to ensure suitable therapy can be given to the person with obsessive compulsive disorder.
The typical symptoms of a person affected by OCD consist of:
- Cleaning places or objects even when it is already tidy
- Washing parts of the body frequently
- Adhering to a certain symmetry while arranging objects at work or at home
- Uttering a word or phrase repeatedly
- Often making sure the doors and windows are locked at night
Diagnosis And Treatment:
The mental health expert, also known as a psychologist conducts a physical exam of the patient, to look for any typical patterns of behaviour. Laboratory tests, to examine blood count, thyroid levels and the presence of alcohol or drug traces in the system are also carried out.
Furthermore, a thorough psychological evaluation is conducted in the affected individual, to study their thoughts, actions, reactions to situations and analyse the intensity of their emotions.
There is no cure for this mental ailment. Once the diagnosis of OCD is confirmed, the psychologist provides appropriate remedial measures, to keep the symptoms under control.
This includes professional psychotherapy sessions involving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help the patient deal with irrational fears and constant fixations. In addition, the doctor also prescribes antidepressant medications to enhance moods, promote productivity and regulate sleep patterns.
Practising a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, routine therapy sessions and proper medication schedule are a must, in order to effectively manage the symptoms of OCD and help the affected person recover completely.