When worries take over: Recognizing and treating obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is marked by intrusive, repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that interfere with daily life. While many people experience occasional obsessions and compulsions, those with OCD are unable to control them and may spend hours every day performing compulsive behaviors to relieve anxiety.
Symptoms of OCD may include:
– Obsessive thoughts about cleanliness, symmetry, or order
– Compulsions to clean, organize, or hoard objects
– Obsessions with safety or harm, such as fear of contamination or fear of accidentally harming oneself or others
– Repeatedly checking locks, appliances, or other items for safety
– Compulsions to perform certain routines a certain number of times, such as counting or touching objects
– Feeling extremely anxious or distressed when unable to perform compulsions
OCD can be difficult to diagnose since its symptoms are often mistaken for everyday worries or quirks. However, if you or someone you know experiences repetitive, intrusive thoughts or behaviors that interfere with daily life, it may be helpful to seek professional help.
Treatment options for OCD include:
1. Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy used to treat OCD. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) is a specific type of CBT that exposes individuals to their fears and helps them develop strategies to resist compulsive behaviors.
2. Medication: Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help reduce obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors by regulating neurotransmitters in the brain.
3. Lifestyle changes: Practicing stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness meditation, exercise, and healthy eating can help alleviate symptoms of OCD.
It’s important to remember that OCD is a treatable disorder, and seeking professional help can make a significant difference in managing its symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing obsessive-compulsive symptoms, seek help from a mental health professional to start the journey towards recovery.