What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that affects approximately 1-2% of all people. It is a serious and sometimes debilitating disorder that can negatively impact an individual’s ability to function normally on a regular basis.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) consists of both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions can be recurring obsessive thoughts, images or urges. Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or acts. An individual dealing with OCD will have recurring obsessions in their mind and will feel that the only way to relieve the stress and anxiety caused by their obsessions is through their compulsions. In other words, they feel like they can’t relieve their obsessive thoughts until they complete their compulsions over and over.
What causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
There are many varying causes of OCD. These are from a combination of temperamental, environmental and genetic factors. Physical and sexual abuse in childhood have been known to increase the chances of an individual developing OCD. Additionally, higher internalizing symptoms, higher negative emotionality, and behavioural inhibition in childhood are possible temperamental risk factors.
Symptoms of OCD include:
Recurring thoughts, urges, images
Attempts to suppress obsessions
Heightened fears of contamination (dirt, or germs)
Fears of health problems or injury
Unwanted aggressive thoughts or behaviours
Controlling obsessions resulting in compulsions
Repetitive behaviours, such as continually cleaning hands, rituals, checking and rechecking tasks
Mental acts (praying, counting, reading words)
OCD can be treated. The two main types of treatment are psychological therapy to help the individual face their obsessions, and medication.
There are a number of significant academic, occupational and social functional difficulties that arise from having OCD.
OCD can cause:
Inability to complete assignments or school projects on time or at all due to a feeling of the assignment not being done correctly or not “right”
Continued obsessive thoughts in academic situations resulting in impairments and difficulties learning
Compulsive tendencies such as fidgeting, or straightening of objects in academic situations impeding learning
Difficulties focusing or concentrating in work settings due to obsessive thoughts
Inability to work effectively and inability to complete work assignments on time due to compulsive inhibitions
Difficulty socializing or living independently as adults
Few significant relationships outside the family due to obsessive and compulsive tendencies
Obsessions about harm resulting in fragmented family relationships or avoidance of family members
Avoidance of social situations
Health problems common with avoidance of doctors’ offices and hospitals, for example, because of fears of being exposed to germs, or the development of dermatological problems such as skin lesions due to excessive washing
If OCD is left untreated, it can result in significant impairments to an individual’s ability to function regularly, negatively impact their health, and impair their enjoyment of life. Sometimes, it can become so destructive that it will result in other forms of mental disorders such as heightened anxiety or even depression. It is crucial that an individual suffering from OCD gets immediate help.
How we can help:
Fortunately, it is entirely possible to effectively diagnose and treat OCD so that it becomes manageable. The most effective form of treatment is through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which allows the diagnosed individual to reshape their thinking in more positive and healthy ways. QEEG Mapping and Neurofeedback are also common and effective.