June 20th, 2005
By Stal Herz
Obsessive compulsive disorder is caused by a nonsensical response in the brain
that causes a single thought to be dwelled on, dissected and worried about from
anywhere from hours to days. While it is a mental problem that may be developed
to help cope with serious worries, it is also one that has biological roots.
Knowing and understanding this can help to treat and deal with the pain that
arises from this condition not only for the person who has been afflicted, but
for the people around that person on an every day basis.
Currently, 25 million Americans suffer from OCD, and until recently, it has
always been thought of only as a mental illness, rather than take into
consideration that it can also arise from a chemical imbalance of the brain.
Many times, we hear people use the term OCD causally when talking about leaving
the gas on or questioning whether or not they left the car door unlocked.
Double checking, while a bit cautious, is in no way obsessive.
What can happen is that small idiosyncrasies can build up and in time, even
though there is no biological factor triggering the disease, one can actually
start to rely on the very things that they obsess over.
Your madness can tend to become your only reality.
The root of OCD is, in fact, in the word obsession. Usually obsessions focus
on events, decisions or people that are impossible to control. The reason for
dwelling on such impossible goals is that it allows the mind to go round and
round without finding an answer. It is an escape from dealing with what is
truly bothering the individual. There is a need to obsess and do battle within
the individual because to focus means getting at the root of the problem,
which is often a horrifying event.
It is much easier to question whether or not you said the right thing to your
boss over and over again in your mind than it is to think about and fully deal
with the ramifications that might have arisen from an early traumatic experience
in your life.
A question you might want to ask yourself during one of these moments of doubt
is, "What is really bothering me?" Give yourself some time for the
answer to come and you might let the stress that comes with asking those types
of questions diminish significantly.
The key is learning or teaching early on the positive effects of facing fears
and knowing that life is full of those moments. If you move forward with
caution and not fear, even in tiny daily activities, it can help get at the
root of problems.
The compulsion factor is the physical manifestation of all of those illnesses.
When looking for warning signs to an onset of OCD, you might notice that an
individual is no longer dealing with rational thoughts. Their reality is
being expanded so that they can allow for multiple possibilities to obsess
So what can be done about it?
Currently, Johns Hopkins University is conducting studies to determine whether
or not there is a specific gene that carries the disorder with it.
It is interesting to note that the compulsion is actually a mechanism to
decrease stress that arises. The need to do something over and over again,
such as checking to see if the gas is on or scrubbing your toes to make sure
nothing from the bathroom leaves with you, is soothing the obsession.
But is it?
Until the individual is forced to deal with the problem, they will remain in
their infinite state of panic and search to ease their pain. However, forcing
an individual who is not ready for such giant steps might intimidate them and
drive them even further into their behavioral patterns.
OCD patients should be taken out of their own environment so that they can see
their lives from different points of view. A person with OCD will make their
house the ultimate comfort zone that that they can have, at their finger tips,
all of their pleasure and pain stimulants. As we noted before, it is the
lifestyle that becomes addicting and gives credence to thoughts that are not
based in reality.
Thoughts that are not rational become the focus of reality.
If medication is being prescribed, it should be used along with behavioral
programs that allow the individual to be proactive. Developing a dependency
on medication do not alleviate your problems. They only create drug addictions.
Without therapy, it is only sedation, not healing.
Treatments for severe cases are now being tested that implant small devices that
give off mild electrical shocks to the areas of your brain that might be causing
the OCD. It is thought to be the future of medications that are not drugs but
literally change the way the current flows in your mind.
Before getting to that stage however, treatments early on to deal with the
problems that cause us our deepest fears can help to cure as well as anything.
Whenever a traumatic event takes place in your life, you must deal with it as
soon as possible.
If not, you will run the risk of developing a dependency to thoughts not based
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