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Obsessive compulsive disorder is an ever present part of society today. We now have television shows and media coverage about people with this disorder shedding light on a serious illness that plagues people. For the purposes of this paper I want to overview a few key points to help show why OCD is a serious and treatable illness. First, I would like to give a brief history of the disorder and some of the social stigmas and attitudes toward the psychological disorder. Then I would like to look at two of the treatment processes from the cognitive and behavioral schools of thought followed by some prevention methods to the disorder. This paper will help to show why this disorder is important to understand, diagnose, and treat.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder derives its name from two words namely, obsession and compulsion. Obsessions are the involuntary and uncontrollable images, impulses, or thought that occur in a repetitive way in one's mind. One does not want to have the ideas since they are aware of the ideas making no sense. Even if an individual know that the ideas do not make sense, they cannot be able to stop them. It is unfortunate that the obsessive thought are distracting and disturbing. Compulsions are those rituals or behaviors that one feels driven to act out now and again. The compulsions are usually performed with an intention to do away with obsessions. For instance, when an individual is usually afraid of contamination he or she might develop cleaning rituals which are very elaborate. But any kind f relief in this case does not last for long, the obsessive thought usually strongly come back. The obsessive behaviors usually end up bringing about anxiety since they become time-consuming and more demanding. Now, after understanding the terms obsession and compulsion the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can easily be defined (De & Rachman, 2004).
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be defined as an anxiety disorder that is depicted by intrusive thoughts which bring about apprehension, uneasiness, worry, or fear as a victim become engaged in repetitive behavior that are meant to reduce anxiety. The disorder was first diagnosed in 1963 by DR. Bogusian. The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder may constitute aversive to odd numbers; repetitive hand washing; preoccupation with aggressive or sexual impulses, or with certain religious beliefs; nervous habits for instance opening and closing a door in a number of times before one leaves or enters a room; and extensive hoarding. The symptoms can be time-consuming and alienating, and usually cause severe financial and emotional distress. The victims may behave like paranoids and some people perceive them like psychotics. However, the OCD victims usually realize their thought and the resultant actions as not being consistent, and their distress may increase due to this realization (M. & Pedrick, 2009).
Adolescents and children my hide the signs and symptoms because they fear of being considered as weird or crazy. Adolescents are usually aware of the stigma that is associated with the symptoms of OCD and may look for ways to devise explanations regarding their behaviors or ways to keep away from situations or places that trigger the behaviors. Compulsive rituals usually start to occur gradually, such that the parents or the authority may unintentionally compensate for the behaviors. In case the adolescents and children have compulsive rituals that are appropriate developmentally, or appear healthy, their parents may not be concerned by the symptoms of OCD at the initial stages. This is dangerous because, it means that the treatment will be done during the time when the behaviors have become very disruptive (Maj, 2002).
The causes of OCD is not well known, but as from research it may be associated to biochemical imbalance which brings about interference to the manner in which information is being processed in the brain, causing the brain to send delusive messages concerning danger. But this does not mean that the brains of the OCD victims are damaged or that they reason in an inferior manner to those individuals who do not have the disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder becomes a learned response meant to reduce anxiety, and as well it may be actuated by an event that is stressful. It has been hypothecated that there might be many different kinds of OCD and that, in general, the OCD that starts during childhood may differ from the one that begins during adulthood (M. & Pedrick, 2009).
Some researchers have found out that there is a possibility an OCD victim having a family member with the disorder or with the disorders related to OCD for instance the body dimorphic disorder, and binge eating. However, it is not conclusive about the likelihood of the disorder being inherited genetically. Identical twins will not have OCD thought the probability is high that both will be affected. An American study shows that, about 30 percent of teenagers suffering from the OCD had an immediate family member with the disorder or having the obsessive symptoms. It has also been seen from other studies that, if the victim acquired the disorder in the adulthood, then there is a less or no chance of the victim's offspring acquiring the disorder than if the victim acquired the disorder during his or her childhood. Researchers have shown that if one parent is a victim of OCD then the chances of children suffering lies between 2 and 8 percent. Also if the parent has the family members with the disorder, then the probability of the children acquiring the disorder increases but if there is no family history of the disorder, the probability decreases. With children, the OCD can bring about poor eating habits and stress, usually when the disorder relates to food. Due to this, children with OCD do not do well physically and are vulnerable upset stomach and headache which are stress-related (De & Rachman, 2004).
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can also result from particular infections. Some infections like a streptococcal infection that affects the throat have been known to occasionally bring about the inability of the body to distinguish healthy cells from the infection and therefore causing damage to the cells. In case this happens with the brain, the symptoms of OCD will occur, though the symptoms do not last for long and the probability of acquiring the disorder this way is very rare. If the OCD comes about due to a strep throat infection, the signs and symptoms are seen to start very early, usually within one week or two weeks. This cause can be prevented or treated with penicillin as soon as the infection is noted or diagnosed (Maj, 2002).
Depression and psychodynamics have also been found very much associated with the occurrence of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It has been seen that, the depressed individuals often develop obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and the OCD victims frequently develop depression. Both depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder must be clinical intervened and it is difficult for an exposure program to be undertaken while the depression is still high. Psychodynamics constitutes the statement that, the disturbances during early sexual development as well as the unconscious wishes brings about obsessive-compulsive behavior (Maj, 2002).
The success and effective strategies of treatment depends on the age of the affected individual as well as the severity of the disorder. The most common treatments for OCD are cognitive behavior therapy, appropriate medication, and self-help. The cognitive behavior therapy for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive behavior constitute two components namely, cognitive therapy, and exposure and response prevention. This exposure and responsive prevention constitutes repeated exposure to the causes of one's obsession. After the exposure the affected individual is asked to refrain from the resultant compulsive behavior that was to be performed with the intention of reducing anxiety. For instance, an individual who has a compulsive behavior of washing hands might be requested to touch the handle of a door in a public restroom and then not allowed to wash up the hands. As the individual sit back with the anxiety, that urge of washing his or her hands will slowly disappear on its own. This is when the individual realizes that he or she doesn't need the ritual or behavior to away with anxiety. They can now understand that they have some control over their obsessive thoughts as well as compulsive behaviors (Pato & Zohar, 2001).
Studies have shown that the exposure and response prevention can really prepare the brain resulting into permanent reduction of the occurrence of obsessive-compulsive disorder signs and symptoms. The exposure and response prevention is a type of OCD therapy can as well eliminate compulsive behaviors altogether. Cognitive therapy for OCD is another component of cognitive-behavioral therapy that centers on the catastrophic thoughts as well as amplified sense of responsibility that one feels. The major part of cognitive therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder is teaching an OCD victim healthy and efficacious ways of dealing with obsessive thoughts, without involving the compulsive behavior (Foa & J., 1997).
Appropriate medication has been found to be very effective in treating the obsessive-compulsive disorder. For some people, medication alone can so away with the disorder but for other people, it can only provide little help. Generally there is at least one medication for every individual that will assist to relieve some of the signs and symptoms of the disorder. Medication is very helpful but it is not a permanent cure for the obsessive-compulsive disorder, since an OCD victim feels better only during the time he or she is on the drug. It is always manageable if a victim feels comfortable to the prescribed drug in a long-term basis, but it has been found that there is no guarantee for the long-term effectiveness to be consistent. This is because most of the victims may decide to discontinue medication for a number of reasons even if it has been effective. An individual may not like the side effects of the prescribed drugs; may not afford the medication since it is long-term; may feel they no longer need the medication; and so that people do not perceive them as pill poppers (Pato & Zohar, 2001).
After the victim has stopped taking the prescribed medication, the signs and symptoms of the obsession-compulsive come back. So that any kind of appropriate medication can do effective work, it must be used in conjunction with a suitable therapy for the treatment of the disorder. Two types of medication have been proved to be the most efficacious in the treatment of OCD and these include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and antidepressants. Serotonin is a chemical component within the brain that is called a neurotransmitter and it is the imbalance of this chemical that brings about the obsessive-compulsive disorder (Saiz et al., 2008).
Self-help is also very important in the treatment of the obsessive-compulsive disorder. A victim can help him or herself in a number of ways namely, educating oneself, practicing the skills that one has already learnt in therapy, by staying close to the family members and friends, by joining the obsessive-compulsive support group, and by practicing relaxation techniques. Educating oneself involves doing research concerning OCD by reading books related to the disorder, and talking to the concerned doctor or therapist. The more one knows about the disorder, the better he or she can be able to manage the symptoms (Steketee & Pigott, 2006). It is very important to practice the skills learnt in therapy so that a victim can work actively toward doing away with his or her obsessions and compulsive behaviors. It is a challenge that requires one to be absolutely committed and must be a daily practice. It is advisable for an OCD victim to stay close to both family members and friends. It has been found that obsessions and compulsions can lead one's life into social isolation and social isolation in turn can worsen the obsessive-compulsive disorder. If one is close to family members and friends he or she can get help of any kind and support from these people. To involve other people in one's treatment can help guarding against setbacks and also can bring about motivation (M. & Pedrick, 2009).
By joining an OCD support group an individual can get a good chance to participate in helping others since he or she realizes that other people are also suffering from the same disorder. Participation in the support group has been found to be the best reminder. Due to this one can learn and share experience with others who are suffering from the same disorder. By practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing may assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety that are brought about by OCD. The mindfulness meditation is very important to OCD victims (Maj, 2002).
For the purposes of this paper I have overview a few key points that have helped show why OCD is a serious and treatable illness. OCD can bring about extreme distress and disruption for individuals when both socialization and self-actualization are crucial. It is fortunate that OCD is manageable when it has been diagnosed and treated early enough and consistently. The OCD can be treated by a number of ways namely medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and self help and for these treatment strategies, the cognitive-behavioral therapy has been proved to be the most effective such that the sufferers of OCD get permanent cure if they participate well during its use in treatment.