We’re all human. Generally, everyone has fears, anxieties, and worries every now and then. It’s a part of life to be concerned with day-to-day situations such as health, family, and simply surviving. Even having occasional disruptive thoughts can be common for the average individual within society. However, imagine having these same internal experiences on an entirely different level, to the point that everyday life is controlled by these anxious obsessions and compulsions. Now we’re getting closer to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
On average, the effects of OCD usually occur during childhood. Doctors have concluded that the disorder can be prevalent throughout an individual’s entire life span, but there are some cases where conditions have temporarily come and gone. When the obsessions and compulsions take up over an hour or more of your time each day, cause excessive amounts of stress, or interfere with normal daily and social activities, OCD is usually diagnosed. The obsessions can include impulses, images, and thoughts, while the compulsions are certain unbreakable habits and mental routines that are difficult to hold in check. Examples of some obsessive tendencies are fear of germs, pain, or the protection of others; compulsions can include repeated quirks, repetitive showers, constant cleaning, or the repositioning of items.
It’s important to note that OCD treatment may not always result in a cure. It may, however, control some of the everyday symptoms. Two conventional therapies include medications and psychotherapy. Medications are unsuccessful for almost one in three people with OCD. Antidepressants are a psychiatric medication that may help control obsessions and compulsions. A few FDA approved medications include Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac. On the other hand, cognitive behavioral therapy is a specific type of psychotherapy that serves as an alternative treatment. The patient is gradually exposed to their feared object or obsession and provided with opportunities to learn healthy ways to cope with their anxiety. This takes dedication and consistency but allows one to attack their fears instead of walking around them.
A similar disorder that some may get confused with OCD is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. OCPD is characterized by being overly concerned with control and orderliness. The main difference between OCD and OCPD is best explained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine: “People with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct.” These are two distinct disorders that are equally problematic.
There is no doubt that OCD is a troubling experience for the diagnosed, but we must also be aware that the friends and family of the diagnosed that are affected as well. Recognition on both ends may provide for better understanding and patience in the future.
Written by: Dominic Ligon