Understanding OCD

At times, most people get a thought stuck in their head, or they check a couple of times to make sure they turned off the stove or locked the door. But if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you become so preoccupied with a thought or so compelled to check and recheck that you cannot continue the normal routine of a day. Obsessions are unwanted, recurrent and unpleasant thoughts that cause anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive, ritualistic behaviors that the person feels driven to perform to decrease anxiety. The act of performing rituals often takes up many hours of each day. Although individuals with OCD may know that their thoughts and behaviors make no sense, they are compelled to continue them.

Many people hide their OCD symptoms from family and friends and are afraid or embarrassed to seek help. Persons with OCD often think that they are “crazy”, and that they are the only ones suffering from these types of obsessions and/or compulsions. It also is possible that someone with OCD will have depression or anxiety, but it is difficult to determine which condition comes first. Physicians, therefore, often treat the obvious depression or anxiety, and miss the OCD because the person is reluctant to tell the doctor about his or her obsessions or rituals. If you think you have OCD, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You should discuss your concerns with a healthcare professional. An estimated five million people in the United States suffer from OCD. It equally affects men, women and children, as well as people of all races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds.

OCD is the fourth most common neurobiological illness. One in 40 adults and one in 200 children suffer from OCD at some point in their lives.

What Causes OCD?
Current theories indicate that OCD is a biological disease, involving an imbalance of a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical that sends impulses from one nerve cell to another. Medication may help correct this imbalance. Although stress does not cause OCD, a stressful event like the death of a loved one, the birth of a child or divorce can trigger the onset of the disorder.

Common Obsessive Thought
Fear of contamination
Fear of causing harm to another
Fear of making mistake
Fear of behaving in a socially unacceptable manner
Common Compulsive Behaviors
Repeated checking
Repeated Cleaning
Excessive Arranging