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What is OCD? Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

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Posted By Alex Perez

Definition of OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder marked by excessively repeated thoughts and behaviors. OCD is on the range of anxiety disorders and can overtake one’s day to day life if not addressed. The symptoms can also be extremely distressing for individuals. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder usually start experiencing symptoms younger or around the age of 19.

It is normal for everyone to experience the occasional intrusive thought. An intrusive thought is  an unwelcome negative, and sometimes disturbing, thought.

However, people with OCD cannot remove these thoughts through their own logic and often excessively worry about them and change their behavior because of to alleviate those worries.

The excessive thoughts are called obsessions and the behavior that seemingly gets rid of those thoughts are called compulsions.

For example, someone may visualize another person breaking into their house and harming them. This thought is disturbing. The person with OCD will continuously think about this scenario and excessively worry about it.

When that person goes to lock the door, she may feel like she did not lock the door properly. So she’ll check again, physically unlocking and relocking the door. She may feel like she didn’t lock it right, so she will repeat the behavior until she feels like the door is adequately locked. She may not realize it, but the act of locking the door may have taken her a half an hour when for another person, it is a 30-second task. She feels like if she doesn’t check the door in this way, that thought of the person breaking and harming her will occur.

Sometimes OCD can manifest itself through other subconscious behaviors such as hair-pulling, called Trichotillomania, or skin-pulling, called excoriation or dermatillomania, without the person being totally aware of their actions or why they are doing it.

Significant life changes can also aggravate and trigger obsessive-compulsive disorder. For example, ending a relationship or loss of a job can worsen symptoms for someone with OCD. The sudden imbalance in one’s life can trigger anxiety and therefore amplify symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Treatment for OCD

There are natural and therapeutic ways to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Therapy– Working with a mental health professional can help one understand their thought processes and manage their behavior. Among many psychotherapy techniques that can work well, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been clinically shown to be effective in treating OCD. CBT has even been shown to restructure brains neurologically after treatment for OCD.  If you know someone seeking a therapist due to Obsessive Compulsive behaviors, encourage them  to ask their therapist what psychotherapy approach they use.
  • Diet – Keeping a healthy diet can be useful for managing OCD. This includes keeping away from caffeine and other foods or drinks that worsen anxiety symptoms and pick up their heart rate.
  • Exercise– A good exercise regimen can help manage the symptoms of OCD. Exercise releases endorphins which can help people feel good and lessen worries.

Infographic Treatment for OCD
Infographic Treatment for OCD

NIMH OCD

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