What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

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Obsessive compulsive disorder is a part of a group of psychiatric conditions that involve excessive anxiety. This group is otherwise known as anxiety disorders. In obsessive compulsive disorder, the anxiety experienced is manifested in two but not mutually exclusive categories, namely: obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are thoughts and impulses that recur excessively to the point that they become intrusive or inappropriate for the current situation. The most common kind of obsession is on thoughts about contamination wherein the person has an extreme fear of coming into contact with dirt, germs or unclean objects. It can become so severe that a person will be unable to do ordinary chores out of fear of holding the objects. Other examples are persistent doubts such as when the person is obsessed on whether or not he locked the door or turned off the stove, extreme need for orderliness and aggressive impulses or thoughts.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals that neutralizes the anxiety of the person when performed. However, the relief is temporary prompting the person to be stuck in a cycle of constantly repeating the behavior. Examples are compulsions on wanting to be clean such as repeatedly washing their hands or showering, compulsions to repeat a name, phrase or action over and over again, compulsions on hoarding items and excessive slowness in organizing and arranging objects.

Studies have shown that as much as 75% of patients with obsessive compulsive disorder have both obsessions and compulsions. Although the person recognizes his obsessions and compulsions as excessive and unreasonable, the person oftentimes offers little resistance to prevent it. Moreover, the symptoms of this condition tend to get worse when the person is under a lot of stress.

Although the exact cause of Obsessive compulsive disorder is not yet known, it is postulated that a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a key role in the development of this disorder. Men and women are found to be affected equally.

Clinical Diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Clinical diagnosis of Obsessive compulsive Disorder is based on psychological evaluation findings of obsessions and/or compulsions that take up a considerable amount of time of the sufferer’s time, at least one hour every day, and interferes with carrying out normal daily routines.

Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Signs and symptoms of Obsessive compulsive Disorder usually appear in childhood. Common obsessions include:

Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by various fears, such as fear of germs,
Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by various fears, such as fear of germs, being embarrassed, and others
  • Fear of contamination, dirt or germs
  • Fear of causing harm
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of being embarrassed
  • Fear of thinking evil thoughts
  • Excessive doubt
  • Need for order, symmetry and exactness

Common compulsions include:

  • Repeatedly cleaning oneself such as washing hands or taking a shower
  • Constantly repeating a name, phrase or action
  • Constantly counting, mentally or aloud
  • Constantly arranging things
  • Eating food in a specific order
  • Hoarding items with no apparent value
  • Repeating tasks a number of times

Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Treatment of Obsessive compulsive Disorder involves a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy.

  • Cognitive Behavioral therapy is thought to be the most effective treatment for Obsessive compulsive disorder. It involves teaching the person how to reduce anxiety without the need of constantly performing or carrying out their obsessions and/or compulsions.
  • Pharmacologic therapy involves the use of antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants and some atypical

Understanding obsessive compulsive disorder can help when taking First Aid Courses.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a psychiatric condition that is characterized by uncontrollable obsessions and compulsions that usually interferes with the patient’s day-to-day living.

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