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Doubting Disease

more about Doubting Disease

OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder

  • OCD describes an individual whose mind is obsessed by a fixed idea of what reality should be.  This obsession may bring about disturbing and frightening thoughts that prompt one to perform certain rituals and activities (such as cleaning, hand washing and counting) over and over to keep them from "losing it."  For the individual with OCD, not performing the activity will produce an extreme, intense Anxiety, that, no matter how hard the individual tries, it is impossible to keep from performing the task.  The need for certainty gives rise to compulsive rituals.

  • Checking things repeatedly (locks, doors, stoves etc.)
  • Constant counting of things
  • Having to do the same action a certain number of times
  • Obsessively arranging objects in a specific order
  • Disturbing and horrific images pop up in the head
  • Nonsensical words or phrases are repeated over and over in the head
  • Always dwelling on the past, asking "what if?"
  • Hoarding objects with usually no apparent value (e.g., lint from a dryer)
  • Excessive fear of contamination and germs
  • The presence of recurrent, intrusive thoughts, impulses, images (obsessions); repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions)
  • Major Depression, social phobias, and Panic Disorders are common in OCD patients

  • This is a recognized psychiatric disorder, with research indicating that OCD has both biological (chemical imbalances, e.g., serotonin in the brain; increased activity in the orbital frontal cortex and the caudate nucleus of the brain) and psychological causes.
  • It is a neurobiological disorder affecting 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children.
  • Research shows that it has been seen in dogs and other animals, and it is currently believed that one is born with OCD.
  • Certain stresses (such as physical or psychological trauma, illness, etc.) may trigger the onset of OCD in predisposed individuals.
  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), Tourette's Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorders, trichotillomania (pulling out hair), and impulse control disorders may be seen in OCD, but may not be related.
  • Stress worsens OCD
  • Some patients with OCD need hospitalization

  • It is seen in all races, sexes, and cultures.
  • Most are aware that their behavior is not "normal" and is considered to be senseless.
  • 10% of those with OCD have relatives with OCD
  • The risk of having a child with OCD varies.
  • 5% have obsessions and compulsions.
  • 20% have either obsession or compulsion.
  • The Yale-Brown obsessive compulsive scale is used to grade the severity of OCD.

  • OCD is not curable.
  • 10-20% have spontaneous remission of the symptoms.
  • Drug therapy -- SSRIs such as Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Behavioral therapy -- exposure, response prevention therapy or habituation therapy in which the patient learns to confront fears and reduce Anxiety without performing the ritual, is often used in OCD cases.

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