The Truth About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

 You've probably heard about obsessive-compulsive disorder, but there are so many misconceptions about it and what it means to suffer from the condition. OCD is a mental disorder characterized by excessive compulsions and obsessions resulting from intrusive thoughts. The person suffering from this condition doesn't want the thoughts since they trigger anxiety. These beliefs cause repetitive physical or mental rituals, which aren't pleasurable to the patient. In short, the patient feels like they have to do the ritual to get rid of the thoughts.


Persons suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder tend to feel isolated because their thought patterns are different from normal people. There is also a bit of stigma surrounding OCD, leading some people diagnosed with the disorder to keep the information private. The stigma surrounding OCD is a result of several misconceptions, and below are some of them:


• OCD is all about cleaning

This is probably the biggest misconception about OCD. Although cleaning or germ phobia are common manifestations of the disorder, there are many others. OCD can affect someone in more than one form. For instance, a person might struggle with religious OCD or obsessions about their relationships. Another person might also be struggling because of a compulsive need to repeatedly check their alarm before sleeping. Therefore, OCD isn't just about being clean, it can manifest in many ways. 


• It affects everyone

People often say, "I'm a little OCD at times", but they don't really have OCD. Probably they have great organizational skills or are a perfectionist. However, this isn't a diagnostic criterion for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Having OCD is very distressing, and there's no way anyone could have "a little OCD"; either you suffer from the disorder or don't. 


• OCD patients enjoy it

No person that has been diagnosed with OCD enjoys the condition. Also, no one chooses to become obsessive about something. Unfortunately, some sufferers might think that they brought it upon themselves. However, no one wakes up and decides they want to be obsessive. 


• You can stop it

Remember, when a person has OCD, it means they don't have control over their thoughts and the compulsions that drive them. They want to be normal, but no matter how they try, thoughts keep coming back and they start obsessing. You just can't turn off OCD. You might resist the compulsions as much as you can, but you can't stop them. 


Treatment


OCD treatment may not be a cure; instead, it helps control the symptoms so that you can perform your daily activities without disturbance. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the disorder. Some patients will need long-term, short-term, or more intensive treatment. The two primary forms of OCD treatments are medications and psychotherapy. At times, your physician might combine these two. 


• Psychotherapy

Your therapist will use cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a type of therapy that focuses on changing a person's way of thinking. They might also use exposure and response prevention therapy which involves exposing the obsession and letting you learn how to resist the urge to perform your compulsive ritual. For example, if you obsess about cleanliness, the therapist will expose you to dirt and help you control the urge to clean it. 


• Medications

Some psychiatric medications are used to control compulsions and obsessions of the disorder. Mostly, doctors will prescribe antidepressants first. Some of the approved antidepressants include Clomipramine (Anafranil), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine, Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), and Sertraline (Zoloft). 

If these medications don't work, your doctor will often add a course of treatment using antipsychotics. 


• Other therapies

Apart from the two treatments mentioned above, there are other options for treatment-resistance cases. For example, you can be put under an intensive outpatient and residential treatment program. In such a program, exposure and prevention therapy is used, lasting for several weeks. You can also go for deep brain stimulation if you don't respond to traditional treatment options. The process involves implanting electrodes on some parts of the brain to stimulate it. 


Ensure you talk to a professional doctor if you think you have OCD or before taking any medications for proper diagnosis and treatment.


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